Judge in Securities Commission case to decide on recusal on April 2
KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The presiding judge in an E&O minority shareholder’s suit against the Securities Commission (SC) will decide in two weeks if he should recuse himself from the case.
According to lawyer Datuk Seri Shafee Abdullah, judge Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim told the contending parties in closed chambers today that he would make the decision on April 2.
Shafee is acting for Michael Chow Keat Thye, an E&O minority shareholder who has challenged the SC’s decision to give Sime Darby Bhd a waiver from making a general offer after the conglomerate bought a 30 per cent interest in the developer.
Chow filed a suit against the regulator for failing to compel Sime Darby to buy the remaining shares in E&O after purchasing the controlling stake in the company for RM776 million.
Malaysia’s takeover rules stipulate that any party that acquires more than a 33 per cent stake or management control in a listed entity must make a general offer for the remaining shares.
Sime Darby purchased its controlling 30 per cent stake in E&O from three major shareholders, including Singapore’s GK Goh Holdings, at the end of August last year in a deal that valued the shares at RM2.30 apiece.
The purchase price represented a 60 per cent premium on the value of the shares in the property developer on the open market when the deal was announced.
Chow, a lawyer, maintains that the SC’s waiver was “irrational and one that no reasonable body would have reached”.
The SC has asked that Abang Iskandar remain on the case as his previous job as the regulator’s enforcement director from May 2004 to October 2009 meant he had a relationship with senior management and commissioners.
Chow, however, replied in two affidavits that the SC did not show that the judge had come into possession of knowledge and facts material to the suit when the latter was a director at the regulatory body.
The deal has triggered unease over the widely perceived coddling by the SC of large state-controlled companies at the expense of minority shareholders when exercising its authority on corporate takeovers.
It also put outgoing SC chairman Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar in a tight spot as her husband, who is the E&O chairman, had raised his personal stock holdings in the company just weeks before Sime Darby announced its proposed acquisition.