Genting scores a PR win with Equanimity purchase

Genting says the acquisition will allow the company to differentiate itself from its competitors

by FARA AISYAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

LOCAL company Genting Malaysia Bhd scores a public relations (PR) win with the purchase of the superyacht Equanimity as the government seeks to recover the billions looted from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The US$250 million (RM1.02 billion) superyacht is a small part of a grand larceny involving billions that were funnelled from the sovereign wealth fund to various individuals and people of interest.

Genting, one of Malaysia’s largest conglomerates, yesterday confirmed the purchase of the superyacht together with bunkers, fuel, lubricants and other existing consumables on board for a total consideration of US$126 million.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas announced the sale of the Equanimity to Genting, making the disposal the highest recovery to date for the government in relation to the 1MDB scandal.

The Admiralty Court in Kuala Lumpur had approved for acceptance the offer by Genting to buy Equanimity.

The statement said the RM514 million purchase price will be paid by Genting and received by the court by the end of April. The Equanimity was valued by Winterbothams at US$130 million.

Thomas said the judicial sale at US$126 million was the best offer received over the five months since the Equanimity — which was linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho — was seized by the government.

He added that many offers were received in the period, and a few were over US$100 million.

“It was Genting, however, that offered the highest price, that was today approved by court for acceptance,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“As the Genting offer was negotiated directly with the government of Malaysia, no agency commission is payable — resulting in savings of about US$4.4 million. It records a high-water mark for our judicial system in ensuring that market value is secured for a vessel sold through the processes of court, without any discount.

“It is even more commendable that this is achieved in a very sophisticated high-end superyacht sale, where the pool of buyers is extremely small,” he said in statement.

Genting said the acquisition will allow the company to differentiate itself from its competitors and provide the company with a unique and competitive edge for its premium customers business.

A local company coming in to purchase the controversial superyacht has glossed global media since the revelation the Equaminity was part of the assets purchased with the estimated US$4 billion stolen from 1MDB.

The government’s efforts to sell the superyacht under a bidding process had been futile as the offers were believed to be too low.

TA Securities Holdings Bhd analyst Tan Kam Meng said Genting can use the asset for the company’s operations.

“Since the company is involved in the casino business, it will have to send the VIPs using these assets. The group has already invested in private jets, so why not a superyacht?

“I do not think Genting is paying too much, or too low for the acquisition. The company’s total assets as at December 2018 was at RM31 billion. So, it can afford to buy the superyacht,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Thomas said a further statement will be issued once the purchase price is received, with a breakdown of the expenses incurred, and the net amount to be credited into the newly opened 1MDB asset recovery account.