In April 2017, it was reported two notable developments are taking place in ASB, which is majority-controlled by 70-year-old Datuk Ahmad Sebi Bakar, a corporate high-flyer in the late 1980s.
Firstly, the diversified group with interests in hotels and resorts, among others, is seeing a recovery in its fortunes. It returned to the black in the financial year ended Dec 31, 2016 (FY16) with a net profit of RM4.07mil as opposed to a net loss of RM11.59mil previously. In its fourth quarter of FY16, its revenue came in at RM90.65mil, its strongest in recent years.
However it posted a net loss of RM8.36 million for FY2017 ended Dec 2017.
Other development took place at the board level where Ahmad Sebi’s son, Anton Syazi Ahmad Sebi, was appointed as non-independent director. Is the veteran corporate figure preparing to hand over a bigger role to his 39-year-old son in their family flagship company?
Anton holds 30.47 million shares of ASB via Eighth Review (M) Sdn Bhd “which were treated as his father’s interest in the ordinary shares of ASB pursuant to Section 59(11)(c) of the Companies Act 2016”. He is said to be general manager-corporate development of the company and chief executive of Singapore-listed Captii Ltd, in which ASB controls 58.3%.
Elsewhere, Ahmad Sebi also controls SJ Securities Sdn Bhd through private vehicle Carta Bintang Sdn Bhd. The corporate figure, who has kept away from the public eye in years, once held top management posts in The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd and Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd. He was also chairman of United Merchant Group Bhd, which was 39%-controlled by ASB from 1995 to 2002.
With Anton on the board, market observers speculate a process of unlocking value could begin for the asset-rich but undervalued company.
As at Dec 2017, its cash and short term investment stood at RM159 million, total debt stood at RM160.63 million, book value per share stood at RM0.55.
As at April 2017 Ahmad Sebi is the group executive chairman and ASB’s major shareholder. He owns a direct 11.57% in the company and another 13.91% indirectly. The tycoon also has a daughter, Aryati Sasya Ahmad Sebi, on the board of ASB. She was appointed director in 2013.
ASB is a diversified group with interests in many industries, including hotels and resorts, information technology, property development, travel and tours, education and coach building and card and payment services. Its hotel and resorts division under the brand name of Holiday Villa, travel and tour business, and ICT division are the main revenue contributors to the group.
It, however, has been loss-making in the last few years (FY2011 - FY2015).
However, the attraction of the stock lies in its assets – land and property. The group’s Holiday Villa Hotels and Resorts is a leading Malaysian brand name in the hospitality industry and has established itself in many locations worldwide such as the Asia Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China and Switzerland.
In the technology space, its portfolio is led by Singapore Exchange-listed Captii. Captii made a net profit of S$6.4mil (RM20.2mil) in FY16. It has a market cap of S$19.2mil (RM60.5mil) and operates in the technology and telecommunications space in South-East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.