UEM Sunrise CEO announces resignation amid Eco World merger controversy

UEM Sunrise Berhad CEO Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib tendered his resignation today with immediate effect. — Picture by Razak Ghazali
UEM Sunrise Berhad CEO Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib tendered his resignation today with immediate effect. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 ― UEM Sunrise Berhad managing director and chief executive Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib has quit the government-linked property company, just days after its parent company announced a proposed merger with Eco World Group Berhad.

UEM Sunrise, the flagship property arm of UEM Group Berhad and sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad, said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia today that Anwar tendered the notice of resignation today with immediate effect.

The firm added that an announcement on the resignation will be made “in due course”.

“In the meantime, a transition plan will be executed for a smooth handover of his responsibilities to ensure continued management of UEM Sunrise business and operations,” the statement said.

The proposed merger between UEM Sunrise and Eco World is now the epicenter of yet another controversy involving state-linked firms under Perikatan Nasional rule, as opponents are reading it as another attempt to bail out a beleaguered company.

Critics of the Perikatan Nasional government have taken to social media to accuse UEM Group, UEM Sunrise’s parent company, of cronyism, claiming the deal favoured the wealthy owners of Eco World.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, EcoWorld said it had received a letter from UEM Group outlining the proposed merger on Monday.

UEM Group issued a statement announcing the proposition on the same day.

The firm said the consolidation exercise would harness the strengths and capabilities of UEM Sunrise and EcoWorld, as subdued macro-economic conditions made worse by the outbreak are forcing property players to pool resources to survive.

But critics found little merit for the merger. Among reasons given were Eco World’s heavy debt.

UEM Group said it was expecting a decision on the proposal by October 30.

Under the proposal, Khazanah will remain the biggest shareholder when the merger is completed followed by Eco World, whose main shareholders are family members and close associates of Tan Sri Lee Kiew Sin.

New Straits Times reported that Lee is close to Khazanah CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, who has been pushing for the merger.

It was proposed that the chairman of the enlarged company be appointed from among existing board members of UEM Sunrise.

Khazanah declined to comment.

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