What You Think

The main takeaway for me from the 1MDB Roundtable Discussion — Abdul Khalid Ibrahim

AUGUST 9 — I would like to thank PAS for including me in the roundtable discussion with 1MDB top management on Tuesday. I am also grateful that both representatives from PAS and 1MDB were very cordial and professional throughout the discussion. It was a frank and open discussion.

My concern as a Malaysian citizen mainly rests upon the ability of 1MDB to operate without loss, failing which would burden the country and its taxpayers. It has been contended that the rationalisation exercise by the government for 1MDB was equivalent to a US$42 billion mega bailout. 1MDB was also accused of misappropriation and leakages and therefore unable to perform its financial commitments and obligations.

In the face of these allegations, I therefore focused the discussion to the debt-restructuring plan of 1MDB initiated by its CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy and the newly constituted board members.

During the discussion, I managed to establish that 1MDB operates on a low or small equity capital while relying on leverage financing to support its investment with capital gain potential in medium term — riding on social and political support from the government to enhance value and profitability for its projects.

The main challenge faced by the company is its obligation to service the interest payment while the project is in its initial and development stage.

It was easy to appreciate that 1MDB has paid over USD10 billion in interest at the back of RM10 million of equity capital and until today, it still manages to service these debts and financial commitments.

But the political drama — coupled with the distribution of distorted facts and false information especially in social media network — had painted a picture that 1MDB was in a disarray and being used to finance political activities.

It must be pointed out that while the Public Account Committee (PAC) successfully evaluated 1MDB’s operation, it was not clear if the company was sustainable. At the discussion, CEO Arul briefed us on the current financial position and showed us the balance sheet of the 1MDB following the restructuring plan enforced by the management.

In conclusion, the net present value of the assets owned by 1MDB was able to service its current and future liabilities that resulted in a surplus. To avoid future complications in operating the assets of 1MDB, these assets were to be transferred to MOF Inc as owners — as per the restructuring plan. 1MDB is to make the appropriate payment of the debts as and when the income and gains from assets transactions by MOF Inc flow to 1MDB.

The restructuring management of 1MDB must ensure for the current net present value of the assets continue to be maintained so that there will be no disruption in servicing the debts and commitment. And, of course, the value of the assets of 1MDB should be much more the current net assets value as the transaction was embarked outside 1MDB — no thanks to the bad political publicity it has been receiving.

Given this scenario, that restructuring is in good progress and the issue of bailing out 1MDB is irrelevant.

As explained by Arul, by end of 2017 the enforcement of assets transactions and continued servicing the debts and commitment 1MDB is poised to be transformed into a new entity or liquidated. This would end the era of confused investment entity.

Another issue discussed was 1MDB’s debt to IPIC. The settlement to IPIC were not enforced as 1MDB paid to Aabar BVI, a wholly owned subsidiary of IPIC. However, the payment was not transmitted to the parent entity. Fortunately, 1MDB had been able to prove the agreement made between the two parties and the arrangement is now on track.

As to the uproar over US Attorney General’s efforts in securing assets belonging to Malaysia during which 1MDB was said to be involved on the alleged illegal transactions, CEO Arul stated that no monies or assets belonging to the company or its subsidiaries is involved. They have been legally advised to ignore the legal drama in the US. In any case, the idea of the US trying to save Malaysians of their assets is akin to the argument that the US was trying to save the world from weapon of mass destruction by bombing Saddam Hussein and the people of Iraq. When it concerns the US, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

* Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is MP for Bandar Tun Razak and the former mentri besar of Selangor.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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