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Drumming up foreign investor interest Print E-mail
Friday, 02 April 2010 19:02
HONG KONG: Sometimes it is the simple things that matter most. For Malaysia, it is about telling its story well and for its leaders to listen to feedback.

This is what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was trying to do in Hong Kong on Tuesday when he met fund managers, people whose job is to invest millions or billions of dollars.

Even Robert Kuok, the richest man in Asia who is also Malaysian, requested to meet Najib for a chat. The premier, who could not oblige due to his heavy schedule, instead sent Trade Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed in his place.

Mustapa declined to reveal what Kuok said but those who know said the tycoon took about 45 minutes to give his views on Malaysia.

If drumming up interest at investment conferences and face-to-face meetings were not high on the list of previous Malaysian leaders, it is now for Najib.
In fact, in Hong Kong, he talked about policy changes made almost a year ago because they have not been appreciated fully by investors.

"There is some lingering misinformation about what has happened in the past. Although we've made the reforms, the changes, they think that the same situation still exists in Malaysia," Najib told the Malaysian media in a briefing in Hong Kong yesterday.

The premier is also keen on hearing feedback. Fund managers told him they liked the Malaysian stock market but there are not enough big companies to invest in. While there are some large companies, the government has a tight grip on most of their shares, preventing foreign investors from buying them.

Najib appreciates these views because they give him a sense of how investors see Malaysia.

The Malaysian stock market rose a hefty 40 per cent last year as investors bet on a quick economic recovery but it is still slower than other regional peers. Indonesian stocks, for instance, more than doubled Malaysia's growth rate.

The defensive qualities of the Malaysian stock market was not lost on Najib but he admitted that more needs to be done to excite investors. A stock is described as defensive if it pays out high and stable dividends. It also rises with the broader market but falls slower than others when the market is weak.

Already, the prime minister was instrumental in the re-listing of a big company, Maxis Bhd, after making a personal request.

He has also scrapped rules that require a 30 per cent Bumiputera shareholding in new stock market listings, an oft cited complaint by foreign investors.

Apart from wooing stock market investors, the government also used the event in Hong Kong to make its pitch for foreign direct investments.

Mustapa, who accompanied Najib, met about six Hong Kong companies that might be potential investors in Malaysia. One of the companies recycles waste and produces electricity as a byproduct while another provides airport service management.

Read more: Drumming up foreign investor interest http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/hongky24/Article/#ixzz0ldZLl6SH


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