‘Sime to list auto unit, raise US$500m’

KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby Bhd has invited banks to advise it on an initial public offering (IPO) of its automobile business, which may raise US$500 million (RM1.6 billion), said the Wall Street Journal yesterday, quoting people with knowledge of the process.

In a statement, a Sime Darby spokesman did not deny nor confirm the report, but said the group monitors and evaluates opportunities that will boost shareholders’ value.

“A stock market listing is just one of the many potential exercises that the company will consider towards this purpose,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company will make appropriate announcements as required by Bursa Malaysia at material times.

Sime Darby, Malaysia’s oldest conglomerate and one of the world’s top three listed palm oil producers, had previously listed some of its units, such as Sime Engineering and Sime UEP Properties, before they were delisted to make way for Sime Darby’s merger with sister companies Golden Hope Plantations Bhd and Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd in January 2007.

Subsequently, the delisted firms spanning across six business divisions — plantations, property, energy, automotive, healthcare, industrial — were all grouped under their listed parent entity Sime Darby Bhd.

In past news reports, Sime Darby president and group chief executive Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh had said the group wanted to first beef up financial performance before relisting the units over several phases at the right time.

Sime Darby Motors is the automotive arm of Sime Darby and is involved in the retail, distribution and assembly businesses.

Established 40 years ago, it has a presence in 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, representing 30 brands that include BMW, McLaren,

Rolls-Royce, Ford, Peugeot, Hyundai, Hino, and Mack.