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Tomypak's second largest shareholder has been mopping up more shares. Why?

TheEdge Tue, Nov 26, 2019 12:10am - 10 months ago

EDDIE Lim Hun Swee’s name in Mandarin means sweat and he has certainly lived up to it, working extremely hard for his success.

The low-profile entrepreneur is a hands-on businessman who knows exactly what he wants and puts his shoulder to the wheel to achieve it.

Over the past eight months, the 67-year-old Singaporean has been actively raising his stake in Tomypak Holdings Bhd even as he has been divesting his shares in Johore Tin Bhd, both of which are Johor-based companies.

Tomypak is a plastic flexible packaging (PFP) producer headquartered in Senai, Kulai, while Johore Tin is a tin can manufacturer based in Skudai.

So, just who is Eddie Lim and why is he mopping up Tomypak shares?

Thirty years ago, Lim made a name for himself in the corporate world when he founded In-Comix Food Industries Sdn Bhd, a manufacturer of 3-in-1 instant beverages, including coffee mix, tea and cereals.

It was during his 20 years as In-Comix managing director — he stepped down from the post in July 2009 — that he learnt how useful PFP is in the manufacturing industry.

Tomypak became the PFP supplier to In-Comix in 1998, and Lim got to be good friends with the Chow family, who founded the company in 1979.

In 2014, Tomypak’s former managing director Chow Yuen Liong decided to retire and exit the company. He had been spending a lot of time in the previous two years seeking medical treatment overseas.

Lim offered to go in and run the show and he has not looked back since.

Made executive director in 2014 and managing director in January 2015, he has successfully enhanced Tomypak’s operational performance and overall profitability.

Today, Lim is Tomypak’s second largest shareholder with a direct stake of 20.39%. His business partner, non-executive chairman Adrian Yong Kwet On, is the single largest shareholder with 23.82% equity interest.

In January, The Edge, citing sources, reported that Yong was looking for a buyer to take over his entire stake in Tomypak but his asking price of RM1 per share was considered too high.

Tomypak neither confirmed nor denied the report.

However, Lim’s accumulation of Tomypak shares has raised eyebrows and renewed speculation that he is eyeing Yong’s stake in the company.

It is an open secret that although Yong is the single largest shareholder, it is Lim who is calling the shots.

It was in 2005 that Lim sold In-Comix to locally-listed Hup Seng Industries Bhd, the biscuit manufacturer best known for its Cap Ping Pong cream crackers.

A patient man, he hung on to his money for years until he saw the opportunity to take management control of Tomypak when the Chow family decided to exit in 2014.

Now, with talk of Yong exiting Tomypak and Lim disposing of his investments in Johore Tin since April this year, history seems to be repeating itself.

Lim had not responded to The Edge’s request for comments at press time.

A quick check on filings with Bursa Malaysia shows that he disposed of 24.7 million Johore Tin shares between April and September at RM1.56 apiece, or a total of RM38.53 million (see table on Page 18).

However, he has only spent RM8.4 million so far to acquire about 17 million shares in Tomypak, which means he still has at least RM30 million of the proceeds from his disposal of shares.

Based on Tomypak’s closing price of 50 sen last Friday, Lim should have the financial muscle to acquire at least another 60 million shares, representing a 14.3% stake.

For perspective, Lim raised his stake in Tomypak from 16.33% on April 5 to 20.39% as at last Friday and pared down his Johore Tin shareholding from 10.7% on April 15 to 3.4% on Sept 12.

It is not known whether Lim has sold his remaining stake in Johore Tin as he is no longer required to make announcements on his shareholding changes. He ceased to be a substantial shareholder in September and resigned as group executive director in October, citing “heavy commitments”.

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