Dr Santhara resigns as CEO of Masterskill

Self-made entrepreneur Datuk Seri Dr Edmund Santhara has announced yesterday his decision to quit as the CEO of Masterskill Education Group Bhd (MEGB) to pursue other interests and be an “active citizen”.

Dr Santhara, 42, is MEGB’s largest shareholder with a 23.8% stake valued at about RM56 million at yesterday’s market close, which hit a valuation of RM426 million in 2010 at the peak of the company’s share price.

In an exchange filing yesterday, the company said Dr Santhara will remain as a non-ED.

MEGB’s main education arm, Masterskill University College of Health (MUCH), has been rebranded as Asia Metropolitan University (AMU) and acquired the full fledged university status under Dr Santhara’s stewardship.

Much had traditionally been a nursing and healthcare college but AMU had ventured into providing business and management related courses.

On April 15, the third largest shareholder in the company, former investment banker Siva Kumar Jeyapalan was appointed as a non-ED of the company.

In another filing yesterday, the company redesignated him as an ED responsible for MEGB’s daily operations.

Siva, who owns 50 million shares or a 12.2% stake in the company, was a director in the company in 2006.

The low profile corporate player was one of the substantial shareholders of MTD Capital Bhd before its privatisation.

MEGB, which made its debut on the stock exchange in 2010, had seen its share price take a beating from its initial public offering price of RM3.50 to the current lows of around 58 sen.

It had relied on the National Higher Education funding (PTPTN) for its students and had around 90% of its revenue coming from such funding at end-2010.

Things took a turn for the worse after the authorities had increased the entry requirements for the nursing and healthcare related courses which made up the bulk of MEGB’s offerings. This saw a drastic drop in its student enrolment.

The share price which had hit a high of RM4.37 in 2010 had been on a downward spiral ever since. The rapid growth of nursing colleges around the country has also contributed to keen competition in the industry which has affected the company adversely.

Another factor that affected the company’s profitability is the lower demand for nursing, which translated into lower revenue for the company. The company posted a net loss of RM28.3 million for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2012.