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Shareholders of Singapore’s Olam approve fee payment to Temasek

January 15, 2013

SINGAPORE, Jan 15 – Shareholders of Olam International Ltd approved the payment of US$6.4 million (RM) in fees to a unit of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd for fully backing the embattled commodity firm’s US$1.2 billion bonds-with-warrants issue.

The sub-underwriting fee, which had been expected to receive approval, is being paid to Temasek, also Olam’s second-biggest shareholder, as the Singapore commodities firm taps the debt market for funds to bolster its financial position.

Olam’s bonds and warrants are expected to start trading on Jan. 31.

Short-seller Muddy Waters LLC launched a scathing attack in November on Olam’s accounting practices, high debt levels and investment projects, sending its bond and stock prices tumbling and ultimately spurring the rights issue plan.

Temasek’s backing for the complex bond issuance plan helped to ease the pressure on Olam, although concerns over its debt and it growth prospects persist and several brokers have cut their ratings and earnings forecasts.

Temasek has built up its stake in the company to 19 per cent from around 16 per cent before the Muddy Waters attack.

The Kewalram Chanrai group, Olam’s biggest shareholder with a 20 per cent stake, and the company’s chief executive, Sunny Verghese, who holds 4.65 per cent, voted in favour of the fee payment.

Olam’s shares ended 1.3 per cent up at S$1.605 today, rebounding nearly 18 per cent from a nearly four-year low hit in December. But the stock is still down eight per cent from levels seen before Muddy Waters targeted the firm.

Temasek’s stake could rise as high as 28 per cent if other shareholders do not participate in the rights issue, an Olam spokeswoman said. – Reuters

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