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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily on March 8, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Prestariang Bhd is back in the limelight as rumours spread like wildfire that there could be hope for the company to win back the RM3.5 billion national immigration control system (SKIN) contract that was terminated in early December last year.

Its share price has almost doubled from a low of 26.5 sen. Yesterday alone, it shot up 22.7% or 10 sen to 54 sen. Trading volume swelled to an all time high of 221.63 million shares, about equivalent to its free float of 269.4 million shares, according to Bloomberg data.

Prestariang told Bursa Malaysia yesterday that it is not aware of any potential revival or reinstatement of the RM3.5 billion (SKIN) project. “The company will make the necessary announcements once there is any material development in relation to [the] SKIN project,” the company said in a filing.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Kumpulan Wang Persaraan Diperbadankan (KWAP), a substantial shareholder with a 5.83% stake, is seeking to revive the project by offering to lower its cost to the government.

According to Bloomberg, a review by the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation Management Planning Unit or Mampu had led to a recommendation to revive the SKIN project. KWAP, however, has not responded to the news.

However, it is worth noting that KWAP has been trimming its stake in Prestariang. The pension fund held 12.9% as at January last year compared with 5.83% currently.

Last week, Prestariang announced the appointment of two independent directors, namely Ginny Yeow Mei Ying and Baldesh Singh a/l Manmohan Singh. Ginny is the daughter of Yeow Kheng Chew, who is better known as KC Yeow.

KC Yeow is known as a close associate of Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir. Kencana Capital Sdn Bhd was the duo’s investment vehicle, in which Mokhzani held 70% as at Oct 31, 2016. The latest filing to the Companies Commission of Malaysia shows that Mokhzani now holds 99.9% in Kencana Capital.

When contacted, Mokhzani told The Edge Financial Daily he is no longer involved with Prestariang after selling off his stake “long ago”.

Kencana Capital was an early investor in Prestariang — which was known as Prestariang Systems Sdn Bhd — with an 85% stake, before its listing in 2011.

Meanwhile, Baldesh was the head of strategy for Kencana Capital and chief financial officer and head of strategy for Liannex Corp Ltd. He was also once the executive vice-president in the office of the vice-chairman for SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd. Mokhzani was formerly SapuraKencana’s vice-chairman. He stepped down in 2015.

It is worth noting that Prestariang president and chief executive officer Dr Abu Hasan Ismail was forced to sell his entire stake due to a margin call in December last year.

The sale of the 117.19 million shares, representing a 24.30% stake, took place on Dec 14, according to a Bursa filing. The shares were held under his private vehicles Ekohati Sdn Bhd, Sigma Dedikasi Sdn Bhd and Anjakan Evolusi Sdn Bhd.

In the same period, Areca Dynamic Growth Fund bought a 16.06% stake and emerged as the single largest shareholder in Prestariang, while Affin Hwang Multi-Asset Fund came out as the second largest shareholder after purchasing 40 million shares or a 8.3% stake.

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