,Wong Muh Rong, who runs boutique corporate advisory firm Astramina Advisory Sdn Bhd says: “They (financial institutions) do not like bullet payments, they need clear sources of repayments. This is why market funding of privatisations is seeing a decline as banks see it as a risk to fund companies to privatise in the current market condition,”
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MERGERS and acquisitions (M&As) are an essential and healthy part of a dynamic capital market.
In current times, when the prices of some listed companies are depressed, one would expect more privatisation exercises to take place.
The typical scenario is usually when a major shareholder believes that the market is undervaluing his company and if he could buy back his company, he would be able to extract more value out of the group. Or it could be a third party embarking on such a buyout.
In most of these cases, the buyers would seek funding from financial institutions to embark on those buyouts.
However, industry sources say that banks have become less inclined to fund buyouts as they have upped their credit evaluation in light of tough economic conditions.
“Banks, as part of their credit evaluation, are needing to see certainty of cash flows before they can grant funding for any M&A exercises,” points out an investment banker.
The dwindling number of privatisations point to this.In the last eight months, only three privatisations have taken place on Bursa Malaysia. There were seven last year and 11 in 2019, of which three deals did not pull through.
Another banker explains that the heyday of leveraged buyouts, when corporate raiders had a free reign to seek funding to buyout companies and strip assets, pay back the loans and still get away with a handsome return, are coming to an end, at least in Malaysia.
“When the funding stops, the party ends,” he enthuses.
The view is backed by Wong Muh Rong, who runs boutique corporate advisory firm Astramina Advisory Sdn Bhd.
In the past, the founder of Astramina has been involved in a number of privatisation deals such as Malakoff Corp Bhd, Road Builder Bhd and Magnum Bhd, explains Wong.
In today’s environment, securing funding from financial institutions is a challenge.
“As part of their due process, they scrutinise the deal more than ever to as they need certainty of cashflows for repayment before granting any funding for privatisation and other M&A exercises.
“Financial institutions are now focused on the company’s sources of repayments for any funding granted for M&A activities.
“Any divestment plans or initial public offerings (IPOs) which have capital market elements are only considered as secondary sources of repayment for any lending because it comes with capital market risks in uncertain market conditions such as now with the Covid-19 pandemic,” she says.