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Vertice Bhd involved in Penang tunnel project because of diversification, local councillor tells MCA

Wee questioned yesterday why a local fashion company was majority owner of the special purpose vehicle formed for the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project. — Picture by Choo Choy MayWee questioned yesterday why a local fashion company was majority owner of the special purpose vehicle formed for the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Vertice Bhd, formerly known as Voir Holdings Bhd, is a shareholder in the Penang undersea tunnel project because it has diversified from fashion, a municipal councillor told MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong today.

Seberang Perai municipal councillor Joshua Woo cited several large companies that have diversified, such as Samsung that began as a trucking business but now sells smartphones, Louis Vuitton that started as a manufacturer of travel trunk before becoming a luxury clothing brand, and Malaysian company Sime Darby Berhad that had its roots in the rubber business before turning into a conglomerate with businesses in health care, palm oil, and property development.

“Vertice Bhd's involvement is the result of the company's business diversification. It is very common for businesses to diversify, venture into new industry, following the conglomerate business model,” Woo said in a statement.

“Minister Wee has no problem with Sime Darby but find faults with Vertice just because it is a project spearheaded by Penang state government under Pakatan Harapan. Either that or he is merely ignorant of the conglomerate business model, which the federal government also adopts,” he added.

Wee, who is a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, questioned yesterday why a local fashion company was majority owner of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed for the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.

He also noted that two construction giants from China, originally announced by the Penang government in 2013 to be main stakeholders in the SPV, were now no longer shareholders.

Woo said Chinese company Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) was dropped from the Penang tunnel project because of an accident at its construction site in Kuala Lumpur that killed a Penangite.

“At that time, the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has already stated that the state government does not want [an] irresponsible contractor in the tunnel project,” he said

The project for the undersea tunnel and three paired roads is now under active investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The agency has remanded two company directors for the probe that it says is on the RM305 million bill for the project's feasibility studies that remain incomplete after nearly two years.

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