WIDELY-KNOWN as one of “Daim’s boys” in the heydays of the 1980s through the 1990s, Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah (pic) is no stranger in Corporate Malaysia.
His meteoric rise in the corporate scene some four decades ago had trust him into the limelight, especially after he was appointed as the CEO of Malayan Banking Bhd at a young age of 35.
Over the years, the businessman was involved in a number of big companies, either as a shareholder or as a member of the board of directors. This includes stockbroking firm Rashid Hussain Bhd, Cycle and Carriage Ltd, Amway Malaysia, Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd and Malaysian Airline System.
The devastating 1997 Asian financial crisis caused Wan Azmi to go slow in the local corporate scene, following the collapse of Land & General Bhd– the company which he founded.
He injected Rohas-Euco Industries Bhd into Tecnic Group in exchange for 317.5 million new shares in the group at 63 sen per share.
For context, steel structure fabricator Rohas-Euco was once listed in Bursa Malaysia before it was taken private by Wan Azmi in 2007.
Currently, Wan Azmi is the chairman of Rohas Tecnic and owns a direct stake of 13.39% and an indirect interest of 29.57%.
This year, in view of his recent activities in the stock market, it seems that the shrewd investor is set to make his game bigger again.
StarBizWeek has tried to contact Wan Azmi for comments. However, he did not respond to queries.
Earlier in March this year, Wan Azmi re-emerged as a major shareholder in Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O). He had previously disposed of his entire shareholding in the property developer some six years ago.
He acquired a 9.09% equity interest in E&O via his vehicle, Sweetwater SPV Sdn Bhd, for RM127.6mil through a private placement exercise. Currently, he is the second largest shareholder of the company.
On July 18, after two days of strong speculation, it was announced that Wan Azmi has committed to invest RM21mil in the debt-laden Scomi Group Bhd He is set to become a substantial shareholder in the company via an upcoming rights issue as well as a proposed restricted issue announced two days ago.
The proposed exercises could see Wan Azmi ending up with as much as a 16.99% direct stake in the company or just 6.29%, depending on the take-up of the rights issue the company has planned.
At the moment, he already owns a 0.75% stake in the company.
Wan Azmi has a diversified exposure in the local stock market. According to Bloomberg data, the chartered accountant owns equity interest in at least five companies on Bursa Malaysia namely Rohas Tecnic (13.39%), E&O (9.09), Chuan Huat Resources Bhd (6.33%), Land & General (0.56%) as well as Scomi Group.
Rohas Tecnic is primarily involved in steel tower fabrication, E&O and Land & General in property development, Chuan Huat in hardware and building materials and Scomi in the oil and gas and transport solutions.
Wan Azmi’s increasingly active participation in the stock market amid the challenging and volatile business environment has grabbed the attention of market observers.
With regard to Wan Azmi increasing his stake in Scomi, sources believe that the company’s experience in monorail projects could be a pull factor, as the group would be able to partake in the RM46bil Penang Transport Master Plan, even when the financial statements of Scomi do not look good.
Apart from the continuation of many infrastructure projects, the government is also expected to announce more development projects moving forward. These could potentially benefit Scomi, given its previous track record.
“Wan Azmi’s close association with Tun Daim Zainuddin is likely to play a role and benefit Scomi. I believe there could be plans for some interesting corporate exercises and deals ahead,” says a source.
Former finance minister Daim is a close associate of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. In the 1980s and 1990s, Daim had groomed several bumiputra proteges in the business world, with Wan Azmi being one of them.
Given his recent undertakings, it is obvious that Wan Azmi plans to be more active in the stock market, potentially with more surprises to come.
For now, the 70-year-old man is far from retiring from the business world, from the looks of it.