Aurora Mulia buys Umno’s 11% stake in Media Prima

by TMR

A PRIVATE company, Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd, has purchased Umno’s 11.09% stake in Media Prima Bhd as the political party seeks to exit its investments in the media business, a source confirmed with The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

The source — who is close to the development, but declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the transaction — said one of Aurora Mulia’s board members is Syed Danial Syed Mokhtar Shah.

Syed Danial is the son of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary. The other directors in Aurora Mulia are Ahmad Khan Jaffa Khan and Azman Hanafi Abdullah.

Business daily The Edge yesterday reported that Syed Mokhtar purchased an 11.09% stake in the country’s largest media company from Umno.

After the sale of 123.02 million shares to Aurora Mulia, Umno — at press time — continues to hold a 7.96% stake in the media conglomerate, which owns three newspapers and six free-to-air television channels.

The block sale was transacted through Umno-linked company Gabungan Kesturi Sdn Bhd. Aurora Mulia paid RM73.81 million for the block or 23.7% higher (60 sen per share) compared to Media Prima’s closing price of 48.5 sen on Tuesday.

Syed Mokhtar also has interests in Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd and TMR Media Sdn Bhd, the publisher of TMR.

Following the purchase, Aurora Mulia is now the third-largest shareholder in the media group.

Umno acting president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan was reported as saying in March this year that the party was selling its stake in Media Prima.

He said the party had to dispose of the shares due to financial constraints after the party lost in the last general election.

“We will sell our stake in Media Prima as there is nothing much we can do. We can’t put out our own news, and we do not have board representation. At least it (the sale) can cover us for another 21⁄2 years,” a news portal reported Mohamad as saying.

Other key shareholders in Media Prima are Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc with a 12.84% interest (42.29 million shares) and the Employees Provident Fund with an 11.92% stake.

London-based investment management firm Edgbaston Investment Partners LLP holds a 5.38% shareholding in Media Prima, according to Bloomberg data.

Media Prima’s share price was unchanged at 48.5 sen at the end of trading yesterday with 9.59 million shares exchanging hands, valuing the company at RM538 million.

For the first three months of this year, Media Prima posted a net loss of RM40.41 million.

Meanwhile, a Bernama report stated DRB-Hicom Bhd has denied that the group has acquired an 11% stake in Media Prima and that it might acquire another 8% that belongs to Umno.

“We wish to categorically deny the statements in the said report,” DRB-Hicom said in a statement.

It was reported earlier yesterday that Syed Mokhtar’s DRBHicom had acquired Umno’s 11% shareholding in Media Prima, quoting unnamed sources.