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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        7 January 2011

Maybank makes bid for Kim Eng

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Malayan Banking Bhd., Malaysia's biggest lender by assets, offered to buy Singaporean brokerage Kim Eng Holdings Ltd. in a deal valued at S$1.79 billion (US$1.4 billion), accelerating its expansion in Southeast Asia.

Maybank, as the Kuala Lumpur-based company is known, agreed to buy a 44.6 percent stake in Kim Eng from Taiwan's Yuanta Securities Asia Financial Services Ltd. and Kim Eng chairman Ronald Anthony Ooi Thean Yat at S$3.10 a share, the companies said in separate statements on Thursday.

That's a 36 percent premium to the stock's average price over the past 20 days.

"Maybank has been trying to create a stronger regional footprint, and this is a shortcut way to its ambitions," said Lye Thim Loong, who helps manage about $500 million at Avenue Invest Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. "It's a good move."

A takeover would give Maybank stockbroking and investment banking operations in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The deal would be the largest in the last 12 months in the Asian finance, stockbroking and banking industries.

Maybank will be required to make an offer for the rest of Kim Eng, it said.

The bank will also discuss with regulators whether it can make general offers for Kim Eng's listed units in Thailand and the Philippines, chief executive officer Abdul Wahid Omar told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

A takeover of Kim Eng would reflect improving political relations between neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

Last July, Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd. made a successful S$3.5 billion bid for Singapore hospital operator Parkway Holdings Ltd.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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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