Malaysian spree heads for SA
THE $1-billion Malaysian-based securities company TA Enterprises is to spend hundreds of millions of rands next year to give the country a head start in what is expected to be an eventual investment rush.
The company made its first move into South Africa 10 months ago when it bought a small stockbroking firm, Kilroe Whitehead, now renamed TA Securities, for R8-million.
Now, to give credence to its intentions, the company has bought the Thrupps building in Rosebank for R18-million through its newly created property division, and plans to spend R150-million redeveloping the site.
The group has also been granted a licence by the Reserve Bank to open a commercial bank which will initially be capitalised at R150-million.
Building operations at the Thrupps site, to be called TA Centre, will start early next year and will house a number of financial institutions, including TA Securities and TA Bank.
Datuk Tony Tiah, chairman of TA Enterprises, says the capitalisation of the bank, to be set up in the first quarter of next year, will be increased to R500-million in the next five years and that the possibility of establishing a life- and short-term insurance arm is also being investigated.
In addition, through TA Properties, it will look for investments in three- and four-star hotels, golf courses, theme parks, townhouse developments and other commercial properties.
It has identified another property in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town. "We are only just beginning to make our presence felt in South Africa and by 2000 we aim to be a major player in the banking, property development and financial services fields.
"We also aim to handle a large part of the Malaysian investment in the country, currently worth about R4,5-billion," says Tiah.
TA Enterprises, named after Tony and his wife Alicia, was established 10 years ago and operates a wide range of financial services, with stockbroking its main function. Last year it earned $500-million in commission and posted pre-tax profit of $200-million. It is the largest stockbroking firm outside Japan. It also has operations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia and Canada.
TA Enterprises will offer similar services here, including merchant banking, asset management and derivatives trading.
Tiah says earlier visits suggested considerable potential and that the country could become an "economic tiger" similar to those in south-east Asia.
"South Africa's transition is similar to that of Malaysia 30 years ago when it gained independence. Although it might take South Africa 10 years to solve its problems, we know how this evolves and correct timing is the factor," says Tiah.
"We have access to considerable funds through our clients and could raise funds for development projects in South Africa such as the unbundling of companies now taking place.
"We believe in the economic potential of the country, and we are a Christian company. We prayed and we believe that God has led us to this country."
In time, the base established in South Africa will lead to other developments in the rest of Africa, says Tiah.