Tabung Haji’s ‘buy-and-sell’ transactions of BIMB shares

The pilgrim fund performed 59 transactions on BIMB shares between May and December 2017

By FARA AISYAH

Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) was busy transacting shares in one of its largest and most successful investments, BIMB Holdings Bhd, in 2017.

BIMB, which is the holding company of Malaysia’s first Islamic bank, Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd, is 53.4% owned by TH, according to a January 2018 filing to the stock exchange.

Based on a search done by The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) on the share transactions by TH, the pilgrim fund performed 59 transactions involving acquisition and disposal of BIMB shares between May 2017 and December 2017, according to Bursa Malaysia filing.

Major shareholders, or shareholders with more than 5% interest in a listed firm, have to inform the stock market of such transactions.

During that period, TH disposed of a total 705.4 million shares and acquired 582.21 million shares in BIMB.

A check based on the filing to the stock market showed most of the shares were transacted days apart from each other.

Records showed that TH disposed of 10 million BIMB shares on May 24, 2017, and acquired 10 million shares on May 30, 2017.

The fund disposed of the highest number of shares, which was 37.4 million shares, on Dec 13, 2017, and acquired the same number of shares on Dec 22, 2017.

There were other large blocks of share disposal and acquisition including the disposal of 35.1 million direct interests on Dec 6, 2018, and the acquisition of 35.3 million shares six days later.

Mujahid (front, centre) on his way to table the report on TH at parliament yesterday. The minister assures depositors that dividends for FY18 will still be paid out (Pic: Bernama)

The last BIMB shares transaction by TH was recorded on Jan 25, 2018, with the acquisition of 32.8 million shares.

Transactions of BIMB shares, however, ceased after the change of the government in May this year.

The prices per share of the transactions were not listed in the filing. It also did not reveal who purchased the shares and who TH bought the shares from.

It is not known why TH had conducted the buy-sell of the shares in BIMB although fund managers do routinely buy and sell shares of their investee companies.

Other major shareholders in BIMB include Permodalan Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund Board.

TMR previously reported, quoting source, that TH had planned to pare down as much as 20% stake in BIMB.

It had intended to sell 317.7 million shares which were valued, at that time, at RM1.32 billion. The sale of such portion would require approvals from its board and Bank Negara Malaysia.

However, the selling did not materialise. TH then had said selling down the stake in BIMB was one of the options considered by the pilgrim fund.

News portal Malaysiakini had quoted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ financial position review for 2017 which claimed TH had paid hibah using depositor’s savings and the fund had masked its profitability by structuring deals.

The news portal said TH sold shares in BIMB for a profit before buying them back. The report also said the pilgrim fund’s subsidiaries had announced high dividends, but were not fully paid to TH.

The financial review of auditor claimed TH sold RM2.55 billion in shares to generate a gain of RM553 million, but spent RM2.69 billion buying back the same shares, according to Malaysiakini. TMR can’t confirm the content of the report.