Liew relinquishes his posts at S P Setia

KUALA LUMPUR: As widely speculated, S P Setia Bhd group president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin will relinquish his posts on April 30 — a year earlier than the contractual date in March 2015.

Following suit are S P Setia’s chief financial officer Datuk Teow Leong Seng and non-independent, non-executive director Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye. Teow will stay on until July 31 while Lee resigned from the post immediately.

S P Setia, which made the announcement on Bursa Malaysia yesterday, said its board of directors has appointed Datuk Voon Tin Yow, the current chief operating officer, to assume the role of acting president and chief executive officer for a period of one year from May 1 to April 30, 2015.

Voon will be supported by Datuk Khor Chap Jen, who is currently an executive vice-president of the group, as his acting deputy president for the same one-year period.

Liew, in a press release issued by S P Setia, said he is stepping down after putting the group on a strong footing.

“Given the solid footing which the company is on, I believe the time has arrived for me to step down after 18 years as CEO. With my children all growing up and starting out on their own career paths, I am looking forward to spending more time with them, mentoring and guiding them,” he added.

It is widely expected that Liew will be actively involved in Eco World Development Group Bhd (EWD), of which his son Tian Xiong Liew is an executive director following the successful mandatory takeover offer of the company by him and Eco World Development Holdings Sdn Bhd, of which the Liew family is a major shareholder.

The Liew family, through Eco World Development Sdn Bhd and Xiong Liew, has been reported to own 164.77 million shares, or 65.05%, of EWD.

News of Liew’s impending entry into EWD pushed the company’s share price up from 67.5 sen on Sept 10, 2013 to RM4.51 yesterday.  In contrast, S P Setia’s share price went down to RM2.88 yesterday. The counter, in fact, has seen a decrease of 4.32% in its share price since the beginning of the year.

However, analysts have not painted a grim picture of S P Setia following the departure of Liew as there are still many projects running. “Everything is in place and the momentum is still there,” said an analyst.

A property analyst said S P Setia would be able to sustain its momentum after Liew’s resignation as it has enough landbank and a strong order book.  The press statement said the group has 4,782 acres (1,935.21ha) of undeveloped landbank worth RM102 billion in remaining gross development value, of which S P Setia’s effective stake is RM71 billion.

Under Liew’s leadership, S P Setia achieved RM8.24 billion in sales in FY2013, almost double that of the previous financial year. As at Oct 31, 2013, it had RM9.6 billion in unbilled sales to be realised over the next few years, which will enable the company to achieve recurring profits in future.

S P Setia chairman Tun Zaki Tun Azmi said over the next year, the board intends to actively seek the views of major shareholder, Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), before deciding on the formal terms and conditions of appointment with the identified successors.

“As the company’s largest shareholder controlling more than 60% of S P Setia shares, it is critical that the persons holding the post of president and deputy president should have the unqualified support of PNB,” Zaki added.

Liew was reported to have a 2.76% stake, or 67.79 million shares, left in S P Setia. He is given the right to exercise his put option to sell the shares to PNB at RM3.95 per share in the first quarter this year.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 21, 2014.


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