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Rajawali willing to fulfil put option if Felda exercises it 'properly'

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Rajawali Group says it is prepared to fulfil the put option in relation to the Eagle High deal if Felda exercised it "properly".

This was after Economic Affairs Minister Mohamad Azmin Ali told the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday that Rajawali was resisting after Felda exercised the put option in order to regain its full investment of US$505.4 million, on top of a six percent per annum in interest.

"Rajawali wished to comply with and honour its commitments in the agreement, and expects Felda to do the same, whether in respect of the put option or the confidentiality restrictions.

"If the put option is properly exercised, for example, to be exercised at Felda's sole and absolute discretion on the fifth anniversary of the completion date - May 11, 2022 - Rajawali will honour its obligations," Rajawali Corp managing director Satrio Tjai was quoted as saying by The Edge Weekly.

On Dec 23, 2016, Felda inked a deal to purchase a 37 percent stake in Indonesia's Eagle High Plantations Tbk from PT Rajawali Capital International.

This was despite the shares only being worth US$115.2 million when the decision was made by Felda in December 2015.

Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, whom the current government claimed had ordered for the deal to be expedited, had defended it, stating that the put option meant that Felda can fully recover its investment regardless of the share price.

According to the government's White Paper on Felda, it can exercise the put option earlier than the fifth year if Eagle High fails to comply with its obligations under the Roundtable on Sustainable Oil Palm (RSPO) certification, fails to get its RSPO certification within two years, commits a material breach or is involved in judicial proceedings relating to liquidation, insolvency, composition or reorganisation.

To date, Eagle High has yet to receive its RSPO certification.

Azmin (below) had also questioned Rajawali Capital International's ability to fulfil the put option due to its net tangible asset of only US$7.2 million as opposed to the US$505.4 million it has to fork out if the put option is exercised, excluding annual returns.

However, Satrio defended what he described as a "purely commercial business-to-business deal".

"Rajawali regrets that this ordinary commercial business transaction between a willing buyer and willing seller is being treated as a criminal act for political or any other reason.

"Rajawali also regrets that while the Eagle High transaction is being misrepresented in, and inaccurate information about it is being circulated by the media, Rajawali is unable to respond fully and specifically on any issue due to confidentiality restrictions," he said to the business weekly.

Satrio denied Azmin's claim that Rajawali lost a court case against Felda over the Malaysian plantation giant's bid to exercise the put option, but declined to divulge information on its arbitration case against Felda.

"There is no case in court. Any statement to that effect, including Rajawali lost a case in court against Felda, is not true.

"Arbitration proceedings are intended to be confidential. Rajawali abides by confidentiality restrictions," he added.

Satrio also defended Felda purchase of Eagle High's shares at way above the market price, stating that "stock market prices rarely reflect the true value of a company".

He said the enterprise value per hectare was comparable to other similar deals and that the valuation was fair.

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