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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Siva Kumar retires from Masterskill board

KUALA LUMPUR: Siva Kumar M. Jeyapalan, the former chairman of Masterskill Education Group Bhd (MEGB) which sold his 30.75% stake and paved the way to a joint takeover by SMRT Holdings Bhd and private equity firm Creador, has retired as director.

The education provider told Bursa Malaysia that the retirement of the 44-year-old, who first emerged as MEGB’s substantial shareholder in October 2011, was effective Friday, June 19.

Prof Tan Sri Dr Marimuthu Thangaveloo, the 79-year-old former MP for Teluk Kemang in Negri Sembilan, has been appointed director on the same date.

Earlier at an EGM held after its AGM on Friday in Kuala Lumpur, MEGB shareholders approved the disposal of its property assets in Petaling Jaya and Masai (Johor) to Brilland Property Sdn Bhd controlled by Siva Kumar for RM79.7mil and the proposed leaseback of the Masai property (with eight inter-connected campus blocks) for 10 years with the option to extend the lease for a further five years.

The lease rental rates start at RM70,000 per month, going up in stages to reach RM95,000 per month.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that MEGB executive director Datuk R. Palan told reporters after the EGM that the proceeds would be used to pare down borrowings and fund its business capital in a bid to turn around MEGB’s Asia Metropolitan University (AMU).

Of the RM79.7mil, the group has allocated RM26.7mil to reduce its debts, which is expected to result in interest savings of RM1.4mil per year, and RM53mil will be channelled towards operating, administrative and marketing expenses.

Palan said the group would dispose soon six more properties - two in Kota Kinabalu and one each in Kota Baru, Ipoh, Cheras and Kuching.

“We are still looking for potential buyers for them, but are not rushing now. We had given ourselves 12 months to turn around AMU,” he said.

Palan said he was “cautiously optimistic” to turn around MEGB.

The group turned in a smaller net loss of RM45.24mil for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2014 compared to a net loss of RM168.05mil in the preceding year.

In a briefing in January, Creador founder and chief executive officer Brahmal Vasudevan said the turnaround of the group was expected to happen within a year.

Palan said he was able to turn around Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences in just a year previously. 

“What we need to do is turn around operationally, simply means good programmes, good faculty and good students,” he said. 

Palan targeted to increase the current strength of 2,087 by 35%.

MEGB has scaled down its nursing programme while growing more in-demand courses such as medicine, physiotherapy and medical imaging, he said.

In another announcement to Bursa Malaysia, the MEGB board said shareholders at the AGM approved the proposed change of the company’s name to Asiamet Education Group Bhd.

MEGB closed 0.5 sen higher at 56 sen on Friday.

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