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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        24  June 2011

Bank deal falls apart

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The deal that would have created a regional banking champion has fallen flat even before it could take off. Barely a month after they expressed their interest to take over RHB Capital Bhd, both Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd announced yesterday that they were no longer pursuing merger talks with the country's fifth largest bank.

Maybank announced to Bursa Malaysia that its board had decided not to pursue the possible merger “in light of recent developments and following further deliberations” at this juncture.

Similarly, CIMB Group also said it had ceased negotiations with RHB on a potential merger exercise. “Based on our various discussions and our assessment of the present expectations of key stakeholders, we do not believe that we will be able to arrive at a value-creating merger,” CIMB Group chief executive Datuk Seri Nazir Razak said in a statement.

“Merger negotiations are both resource consuming and distracting for staff and stakeholders. Therefore, we prefer not to prolong our discussions unnecessarily, allowing all parties to return to business as usual' as soon as possible,” he added.

Even so, sources have not ruled out a possible merger between these parties “not too far into the future.”

RHB Capital's share price, which has been on an uptrend since the announcement of the takeover bid, suffered a major beating yesterday, shedding 6 percent of its value, or 57 sen, to close the day at RM9.03 on news that the merger talks had fallen through. RHB Cap's largest shareholder is the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which owns a 45 percent interest in the banking group.

It's “business as usual for us,” EPF chairman Tan Sri Azlan Zainol said . Azlan, who is also RHB Bank Bhd chairman, said: “We will continue to serve our customers and pursue our strategic direction and initiatives. The group has performed well over the years and will continue to achieve higher level of profitability as a stand-alone entity.”

According to sources, the talks for the potential merger started heading south very early this week. The main stumbling blocks were pricing and divergent interests.

“It was clear that the talks were not going to have a good ending. If there was not going to be a positive outcome, it would be better to stop it as soon as possible. The situation was getting too complicated. That could be why the two banks decided to walk away,” said a source.

The breakdown in talks closely followed the sale of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bhd's (ADCB) 25% stake exactly a week ago to its sister company, Aabar Investments PJSC, at RM10.80 per share. It is believed that Bank Negara had last week set a condition that ADCB's sale price of the block should be adjusted accordingly if the offer price for the merger was lower than RM10.80, which was not received well by parties espousing free market forces.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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