By FMT Reporters (24 January 2022)
PETALING JAYA: A PKR MP has warned that three major banks in the country are at risk of incurring huge losses should the Genting Hong Kong cruise business, owned by Malaysian tycoon Lim Kok Thay, go down.
If the company is wound down, Subang MP Wong Chen said, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and other government agencies will be impacted as they have substantial interest in the banks involved, namely Maybank, CIMB and RHB.
Last week, Genting Hong Kong, which is 76% owned by Lim, filed its petition in Bermuda to wind up the company and appoint provisional liquidators. It said its cash was expected to run out around the end of January and it had no access to further funding.
This was followed by Lim’s resignation as the company’s chairman and CEO, on Friday.
In a Facebook post, Wong mentioned that the banks had given unsecured loans totalling US$600 million (RM2.5 billion) to Genting Hong Kong, which risks becoming a total loss.
Although these unsecured loans would not sink the banks, he said, they would nevertheless cause a “big dent” in their earnings.
“The Malaysian government via various agencies and the EPF are substantial shareholders in all three banks.
“The government is supposed to look after taxpayers’ money and a large percentage of working adults are EPF contributors,” he said.
Wong said the public had a right to know whether these unsecured loans were approved in a reckless manner, and urged the bankers who approved them to step up and justify their actions immediately.
Maybank is majority-owned by Permodalan Nasional Berhad, which is the premier government-owned fund management company.
Khazanah Nasional, the country’s top sovereign wealth fund, is the controlling shareholder of CIMB, while EPF has a majority interest in RHB.
On Jan 10, Bloomberg reported that Germany-based cruise shipbuilder MV Werften, which is a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong, has filed for bankruptcy, as the coronavirus pandemic scuttled the cruise company.
The following day, Genting Hong Kong warned of more defaults due to the insolvency of the shipbuilder company, according to another Bloomberg report.
According to the report, the company “considered that it has exhausted all reasonable efforts” to negotiate with counterparties under the current financing arrangements, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Fears of more defaults led to a 56% plunge in the company’s shares, according to a Jan 13 report by the similar press.