(Petaling Jaya, Monday): On Saturday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced after a luncheon with the Sultan of Brunei that Brunei will explore the prospects of investing in business ventures in Malaysia to help the country weather the current economic downturn.
Speaking to newsmen after a bilateral meeting with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Prime Minister said the Brunei Investment Agency would look into potential sectors, which could include purchase of shares in Malaysian companies listed on the stock market.
"Nothing (specific) has been mentioned but the Brunei Investment Agency will discuss the potential and will do the due diligence (reports) on possible business investments here," he added.
Dr Mahathir said Brunei would study the possibility of investing in "whatever it is that is worthwhile."
Early last month, Egyptian-born tycoon Mohamad Al-Fayed and the owner of the luxury London departmental store Harrods was virtually given the royal treatment when he visited Malaysia and announced at the end of his three-day trip that he did not rule out the possibility of acquiring shares in Malaysian companies if there was a seller who ''needs help and money''.
He said: ''I am not a speculator, but if someone wants to sell and needs help and money there can be (such acquisition),'' he said at a joint press conference here with the Prime Minister.
Al Fayed, who had given the joint press conference before meeting officials from Petronas and the Securities Commission had told the press he had oil business and he wanted to see if he could extend help to Petronas.
On his scheduled meeting with the Securities Comission, Al-Fayed said he wanted to ''get the feel of the place and have no concrete proposal of any kind''. He said: ''Only if someone has shares and wants to sell them, I'm ready to buy.''
It might be significant that the Government Economic Adviser and Executive Director of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), Tun Daim Zainuddin, played a significant role in the visit of both the Sultan of Brunei and Al Fayed.
This makes Malaysians wonder whether one important strategy of the NEAC in the national economic recovery plan is to interest the billionaires in the world to invest in Malaysia to help in Malaysia’s economic recovery.
Is the NEAC setting up a special bureau with the specific task of persuading the 450 billionaires in the world to invest in Malaysia?
If there is such a NEAC "Billionaires Bureau", then its bible would the Forbes magazine, which had made its business to count, identify and describe billionaires.
The July 1997 issue of Forbes said that when it started counting billionaires outside the US ten years ago, it found 96. In 1996, there were 298 - plus 149 American billionaires (bearing in mind that these are all billionaires in American dollars!).
Will there be a NEAC "billionaires Bureau" to tract and establish contact with these 450 billionaires to interest them to invest in Malaysia? As far as I know, Al Fayed is not in the Forbes Billionaire List. The first 40 richest billionaires listed by Forbes last July were:
|Bolkiah, Sultan Hassanal||Brunei||38,000||oil,gas|
|Gates, William H. III||United States||36,400||Microsoft Corp.|
|Walton Family||United States||27,600||Inheritance (Wal-Mart Stores)|
|Buffett, Warren E.||United States||23,200||Stock market|
|Alsaud, King Faud Bin Abdul Aziz||Saudi Arabia||20,000||Oil, investments, real estate|
|Allen, Paul Gardner||United States||15,314||Microsoft Corp|
|Al-Sabah, Sheikh Jaber Al-ahmed Al-jaber||Kuwait||15,000||oil, investments, real estate|
|Lee Shau Kee||Hong Kong||14,700||real estate|
|Oeri, Hoffman and Sacher families||Switzerland||14,300||pharmaceuticals:Roche|
|Kwok Brothers, Walter, Thomas, Raymond||Hong Kong||12,300||real estate|
|Haas Family||United States||12,300||Inheritance (Levi Strauss)|
|Mars, Forrest Edward Sr. and family||United States||12,000||Inheritance (candy)|
|Albrecht, Theo and Karl and family||Germany||11,500||retailing|
|Li Ka-shing||Hong Kong||11,000||diversified|
|Engelhorn, Curt and family||Germany||11,000||pharmaceuticals|
|Al Nahyan, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan||United Arab Emi||10,000||oil, investments, property|
|Haniel family||Germany||9,300||pharmaceuticals, diversified|
|Newhouse, Samuel I. Jr. and Donald E.||United States||9,000||Media|
|Rausing, Hans and Gad||Sweden||9,000||packaging|
|Cargill family||United States||8,800||Cargill, Inc.|
|Tsutsumi, Yoshiaki||Japan||8,000||real estate|
|Ballmer, Steven A||United States||7,500||Microsoft Corp.|
|Kluge, John W.||United States||7,200||Metromedia Co.|
|Tan Yu||Philippines||7,200||real estate|
|Ellison, Lawrence J||United States||7,100||Oracle Corp.|
|Mulliez, Gerard and family||France||7,000||retail|
|Wang, Nina||Hong Kong||7,000|
|Ng, Robert and Teng Fong||Singapore||7,000||real estate|
|Moore, Gordon E||United States||6,70||0 Intel Corp.|
|Slim Helu, Carlos||Mexico||6,600||diversified|
|Cheng Yu-tung||Hong Kong||6,500||real estate|
Other Asian billionaires listed by Forbes as worth over US$2 billion were:
|Kwek Leng Beng||Singapore||5,800||diversified|
|Mori, Minoru and Akira||Japan||5,700||real estate|
|Widjaja, Eka Tjipta||Indonesia||5,400|
|Takei, Yasuo||Japan||5,200||consumer finance|
|Woeste, Albrecht and Lee Kun-hee and family||Korea||5,200d||diversifie|
|Chung Ju-yung and family||Korea||5,200||diversified|
|Krishnan, T. Ananda||Malaysia||4,100|
|Liem Sioe Liong||Indonesia||4,000||diversified|
|Khoo Teck Puat||Singapore||3,900||investments|
|Hasan, Mohamed (Bob)||Indonesia||3,00||0 lumber, diversified0|
|Quek Leng Chan||Malaysia||2,900||financial services, real estate|
|Ho, Stanley||Hong Kong||2,800|
|Matsuda, Kazuo||Japan||2,700||consumer finance|
|Tiong Hiew King||Malaysia||2,700||lumber|
|Ayala, Jaime Zobel de and family||Philippines||2,600||real estate, diversified|
|Fok, Henry||Hong Kong||2,600||casinos, real estate|
|Koo, Jeffrey And Family||Taiwan||2,500|
|Koo Bon-moo and family||Korea||2,200||diversified|
|Lim Goh Tong||Malaysia||2,100||diversified|
|Kim, Woo-choong And Family||Korea||2,000||diversified|
Two other Malaysians appear on the Forbes’ List of Billionaires, namely:
|Yeoh, Francis And Family||Malaysia||1,600||construction|
|Hussain, Rashid||Malaysia||650||financial services|