Asia's best companies 2001 - Malaysia

FinanceAsia congratulates the winners of the best managed company awards in this year''s Best Companies survey. Here we present Malaysia''s results.

This survey covers the performance of the top companies in 10 countries in Asia. Investors and other executives from financial centers such as Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and London are among those who participated in this survey. We had 497 votes.

Best Managed Company - Sime Darby 

Best Managed Company

RankCompanyVotes
1Sime Darby24
2Public Bank19
3Petronas18
4Malayan Banking14
5YTL Corp10
6YTL Power9
7Genting Berhad7
8Malaysia International Shipping5
8RHB 5
8British American Tobacco5
11DiGi4

Sime Darby, Malaysia's biggest and oldest conglomerate with interests ranging from rubber to property, took decisive action to bounce back from the Asian crisis by selling its financial services businesses, which were hit hard by currency swings.

"The company has a proven business record of more than 90 years," says a respondent. "It survived the recent economic downturn, despite posting a loss for the first time in more than 10 years due to a bad investment in the banking industry. Any other company would have had to shut down from such a major loss."

It also sold off other non-core businesses such as US-based Sandestin Resorts and LEC Refrigeration to focus on power-generation - it has a controlling stake in Port Dickson Power - and plantations. The company reported a 15% rise in its second-quarter profit, boosted by an increase in real estate and auto sales, but its still fighting to offset declining palm oil prices. The company will also have to use all its management skills to ride out a slowdown in the US economy, which accounts for a fifth of Sime's exports.

"Sime Darby is not a 'hype play' and resists pressure to succumb to doing 'national service'," says one voter.

Best E-commerce Strategy, Most Committed to Shareholder Value - Malayan Banking

Best E-commerce Strategy

RankCompanyVotes
1Malayan Banking18
2Telekom Malaysia8
3YTL Corp4
4Tenaga Nasional3

Commitment to Shareholder Value

RankCompanyVotes
1Malayan Banking19
1Sime Darby19
3Genting Berhad12
4Petronas10
4YTL Corp10
6YTL Power7
7Public Bank6
8RHB 4
8British American Tobacco4
8OYL4

Malaysia still suffers from a relatively low level of personal computer and internet penetration and Malaysian companies are still in the early stages of developing e-commerce strategies. First out of the starting gate is Malayan Banking, or Maybank, which in June last year became the first Malaysian bank to offer an internet banking service.

The company spent M$20 million ($5.3 million) to develop an internet service that offers clients the ability to open accounts, obtain balance information, transfer funds, pay bills and shop online.

Maybank is taking full advantage of a ruling by the country's central bank that Malaysian banks should have an 18-month head start before foreign banks are allowed to offer internet services. Maybank is betting its internet services will allow it to cut costs and boost revenue.

Best Investor Relations - Genting Berhad, Petronas

Best in Investor Relations

RankCompanyVotes
1Genting Berhad20
1Petronas20
3Malayan Banking15
4Telekom Malaysia13
5YTL Corp12
6YTL Power11
7Public Bank5
8RHB 4
8Sime Darby4
10Tenaga Nasional1

Votes were split on which Malaysian company had the best investor relations. Getting equal top votes were Genting and Petronas.

Petronas is perhaps Malaysia's best known company. The oil and gas giant is Malaysia's biggest company and has generated massive cash flows in recent years. It has also recruited some of the most professional managers in Malaysia so as to run it to the high standards expected by international petroleum investors.

It needs to be proactive in dealing with investors. It has had ambitious plans in the international capital markets and has been corporate Malaysia's most astute user of the global debt markets. However, if you want to regularly access these markets, it is essential to have an open and transparent approach to dealing with foreign investors.

Clearly, Genting has a similar approach. The investment holding company is in everything from hotels and casinos to plantations and power. It is no stranger to communicating with investors, and with the listing of its shipping vehicle, Star Cruises in Hong Kong, has sought to broaden its message beyond Malaysia's shores.

The results of this poll first appeared in the April issue of FinanceAsia magazine. To buy a copy please send an e-mail to: [email protected]

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