Conserving cash for future expansion plans

MBM Resources Bhd group managing director Looi Kok Loon talks about transforming the group into one of the key automotive players in Malaysia and the region.

StarBizWeek: Are your plans a little bit more ambitious than your current resources?

Looi: Generally, I do not look too kindly on my subsidiary companies coming to me for funding. What I prefer is that the subsidiaries should be able to stand for themselves.

In the business, if you get it right, should be bankable. I can put in the capital but the rest should be from funding from the banks. If you look at Federal Auto, it has a long history and the balance sheet should be able to fund its respective expansion plan.

What the HQ should fund is acquisitions. And that is where the rights issue comes into it. We look to buy more properties and I want to build up the asset base of the group at HQ level and then the subsidiaries should focus on operations.

I am conscious there are limitations to growth. Capital constraints is one but we have gone into the capital market for the first time. The shareholders should adjust to a very different MBM today.

I have also tried to explain to shareholders in previous AGMs that we have been generally very generous in dividend payouts but I don’t think I have been very popular. Looking at my track record on dividends, I have been conserving more cash in recent years precisely for these expansion plans. The communications I been putting out to analysts and investors is that you should look at MBMR as a growth story. That cash needs to be conserved for our expansion.

I am out there to invest in our existing businesses. In terms of acquisitions, it will come when it comes. For the immediate term, we are trying to digest the business of Hirotako. Although I am not actively looking for acquisitions, the rights issue positions us for that.

In the future, any business we look at, we will look at that sort of standards in the products we want to do, where there is a lot more value add and something which entry into the market is not easy. These are businesses that can contribute towards the development of our auto industry.

In previous times, we have not spent much. Capital expenditure is investing in new plants and showrooms. I recognise our shareholders expect a regular dividend but also recognise that as we expand, I require the shareholders support as well. As a package, I am trying to thank shareholders for their support and here we are offering a good return in your investment in the company.

Looi says the company is offering good returns to shareholders .

Shareholders are comfortable with MBM being a dividend stock. Do you expect much resistance from shareholders as you flip strategy?

I have tried to manage expectations by making presentations to shareholders where I made it clear that the dividend income cannot sustain if we do not expand our business. If we do not spend, the dividend income cannot be sustained. I believe they understand. My job in a listed company is to make sure the market appreciates this message.

We should not only talk about dividend income, we should talk about capital appreciation also. We are bringing shareholder value up. I understand the issues people talk about such as MBM shares being illiquid. I have tried to address that with the bonus shares and the rights issue. We have been quiet in previous years as we have been running on the spot. We can have a vision but the risk is in the execution.

Today, I am convinced we have got it right and we are starting to see the fruit come in. Last year, was a testament to what we got right. Despite a pretty flat market, we recorded pretty good revenue growth. But with any growth plans, there is a cost to it. I am also trying to manage expectations of the analysts. In the business world, there will be short term cost before we see the long term gain. In vision 3290, I talked about the topline. There has not been much focus on profits but there is behind the scenes which people don’t see. I want to focus on revenue growth because I want to shake us out of running on the spot and go to the next level.

But all of this comes with a cost because depreciation hit immediately when we invest in a new plant.

The OMI plant will be commissioned in November or December but we will start hiring in June. Expenses will be incurred but we need to send them for training such as understanding the engineering aspects of the alloy wheel. Our shareholders need to understand that these are costs for expansion.

The balance of probability for survival lies in favour of expansion instead of staying put?

The risk is much higher if we did nothing. Competition will come in. The steel wheel business is showing a drop in market share and the RM1.1bil might not be sustained and might even start sliding back.

In Federal Auto, the assets are unencumbered. The cost is to build the centres and generate revenue. What risk do we have for Daihatsu? We have the people, network and experience.

The risk we are taking is a measured risk. The execution risk of vehicle assembly will be significantly reduced by having the right technical partner. You cannot stinge on having to pay royalties. The expertise comes by helping reduce the execution risk and we have the best partners to help us with that. Similarly with Hirotako.

How do you proposed to go regional?

That’s why I always say you must get your home base right. Get your costs down and then you will be able to penetrate the regional market. The regional idea should be a natural extension. We should limit ourselves to the Malaysian market. We will succeed if they go the way we want it. That’s why we are going downstream into the manufacturing side to support the overall plan so we can look at the bigger picture.

What’s the time line for your assembly plant?

It’s still early as we are talking to parties on assembly. To set up a vehicle assembly plant from green field it will take generally take one to two years. Then it will take more time to build up sales volume. It is not something that’s going to improve the volumes of MBM significantly but strategically if we get that right, it will lift the profile of MBM in the longer term.

How is investor interest in MBM?

If you look at our results, it has detailed info on our performance. I have generally regular analyst briefing and meet fund managers. Judging from the turnout of (our latest) analyst briefing, it was more than the usual. If I use that as a measure, then yes. there has been more investor interest in the group.

If you go into the group companies, there is so much energy because we have communicated our vision to the employees. People are motivated. They know there is growth, career advancement and potential to move between the group’s brands. People are re-vitalised.

I am aware I should not fall into trap which is as we grow, we must always keep the entrepreneurial spirit of this company. The difference is that we are able to react to market conditions very quickly because of the entrepreneurial spirit.

For example, we talk about this after sales business. The business model tweaks very quickly. We test the market and if the market cannot take it, we are able to change that very quickly in terms of how we want to set up the business.

A principal wants to talk about expanding network. I want to set up dealership in a certain town, we ask the dealers whether we can do that. How many people can react to that fast? We must keep our entrepreneurial spirit to support our principals. Because as we grow, there are more layers of decision making and I am conscious that is our selling point: the ability to move quickly.

To declare vision 3290 in 2010 and to have those results immediately is not easy. To have done that, tribute must be given to the team for being able to translate that quickly into the numbers we have just seen.

In two years time, how would you differentiate MBMR from other auto companies?

I continue to believe its the entrepreneurial spirit and being nimble. We will always be measured against the market. Our outperformance in our results comes from those qualities. I hope people recognise the entrepreneurial spirit of the management to capture opportunities in the market and continue to record the superior growth at the expense of dividend payout.

Are those who helped chart the course of the company still around?

Of course. Very much essential to the group. Everyday, people are running around chasing numbers. The conference we had put in perspective the longer term picture. Actually we asked what are we chasing? How much more can I get from steel wheel? How many Volvo cars can I sell? How many more Daihatsu Delta trucks can I sell?

The self realisation was we reached the peak potential without changing our course.

Why issue equity when you can borrow money?

We did a simulation for different funding options. We felt the interest cost was too high for us and being a listed company. We had not tapped the market. The idea is to go to the market for fund raising. The size of the rights issue is comfortable for the first time around in the capital market. And that should really be the start.

The other potential is that we may identify a property for the dealership business where there is heavy traffic. Potentially, we could work with property developers and we be the anchor tenant.

So far, we don’t have anything in the pipeline yet on this. The more immediate need is for Johor where we will build a big body and paint centre to support our VW business. We are looking at Ipoh and Penang. In that review, we may find the size of these assets might not be sufficient for our needs and might sell some of them and buy some bigger ones.

For example, we recently secured tenant space for a future car showroom and service centre in a prime location in Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. But we don’t own the land (in Desa Sri Hartamas). – Transcribed by Jagdev Singh Sidhu and Thomas Huong.


  • Diploma in Civil Engineering, University Technology MARA, Shah Alam
  • Degree in Civil Engineering, University Technology MARA, Shah Alam
  • Executive Diploma in Business Administration, University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom.

Working Experience / Other Directorships


  • Group Advisor, PNA Technologies Sdn Bhd
  • Group Advisor, Syarikat Metal Industries of Malaysia Sdn Bhd


  • Group Advisor New Business Development of Ingress Corporation Berhad
  • President & Chief Executive Officer of Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) from 2013 to 2018
  • Managing Director of Perodua from 2009 to 2012
  • Executive Director of Strategic Marketing Group, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd from 2007 to 2009
  • Executive Director of Strategic Planning Group, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd in 2006
  • Executive Director, Sales Group of UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd from 2004 to 2005
  • Director, Human Capital Group of UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd from 2001 to 2003
  • General Manager, HR and Administration of UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd from 1996 to 2001
  • Manager, Property and Facilities of UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd from 1992 to 1996
  • Property and Purchasing Manager of Utusan Melayu (M) Sdn Bhd in 1992
  • Property and Maintenance Manager of Techart Sdn Bhd from 1985 to 1991
  • Project Engineer of Techart Sdn Bhd from 1983 to 1985
  • Board of Director Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)
  • Board of Director Universiti Teknologi Mara Holding (UiTMH)
  • Board of Director Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP)

Membership of Board Committees in MBMR:

  • Nominating and Remuneration Committee (Chairman)
  • Audit Committee (Member)
  • Group Transformation Committee* (Chairman)

*Dissolved on 27 January 2022

Date Appointed to the Board

  • 29 May 2019

Mr. Low Hin Choong was appointed to the Board on 18 May 2001. He is currently the Chairman of the Long Term Incentive Plan Committee and a member of the Risk Management and Sustainability Committee.

He holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in Business Administration and Computer Science from Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom.

Mr. Low has over 30 years of experience in the IT industry. He is the founding director of his own successful software applications company. Mr. Low has since retired but remains as a director and advisor to the company.

Mr. Low is presently a Director of Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd and an alternate Director at Med-Bumikar MARA Sdn Bhd. He also holds directorships in Reliance Business Solutions Sdn Bhd, Rosen Sdn Bhd, RBS Technology Sdn Bhd and CathRx Ltd, an Australian-based medical device company.

His current directorships in other companies within the MBMR Group include Hirotako Holdings Berhad, Hirotako Acoustics Sdn Bhd, Autoliv Hirotako Sdn Bhd, Federal Auto Holdings Berhad, Oriental Metal Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, Daihatsu Malaysia Sdn Bhd and MBMR Properties Sdn Bhd.

Mr. Ng Seng Kong has been on the Board since 1 October 2015. He is currently a member of the Audit Committee.

Mr. Ng is a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, United Kingdom and a Fellow Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, United Kingdom. He is also a member of Chartered Global Management Accountant.

Mr. Ng started his career as an auditor at a chartered accounting firm in London from 1975 to 1979. Upon returning to Malaysia, he joined MKS Sdn Bhd as a Financial Controller from 1980 to 1981. Presently, Mr. Ng serves as Managing Director of UMS Holdings Berhad and UMS Corporation Sdn Bhd.

Mr. Ng also currently holds directorships in several companies within the MBMR Group namely, Hirotako Holdings Berhad, Hirotako Acoustics Sdn Bhd, Autoliv Hirotako Sdn Bhd, Federal Auto Holdings Berhad, Oriental Metal Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, MBMR Properties Sdn Bhd, Teck See Plastic Sdn Bhd, Hino Motors Sales (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and Hino Motors Manufacturing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. He is also a Director on the Board of Med-Bumikar MARA Sdn Bhd.


  • Master of Arts, International Studies, Ohio University, United States of America
  • Bachelor of Economics (Hons), University of Malaya, Malaysia

Working Experience / Other Directorships


  • Chairman of Zelan Berhad


  • Director of CIMB Principal Asset Management Berhad
  • Chairman of Faber Group Berhad from 2001 to 2008
  • Various management positions in Khazanah Nasional Berhad from 1994 to 2004 including Managing Director position.
  • Special Assistant to the Secretary General of Ministry of Finance from 1993 to 1994
  • Principal Assistant Secretary in the Finance Division, Federal Treasury under Ministry of Finance from 1991 to 1993
  • Deputy Director of Petroleum Development Division under Prime Minister’s Department from 1986 to 1991
  • Principal Assistant Secretary in Foreign Investment Division, Economic Planning Unit under Prime Minister’s Department from 1982 to 1984
  • Attachment with Investment Division of the Malaysian Tobacco Company Berhad under the British Malaysia Industry & Trade Association training scheme from 1984 to 1985
  • Principal Assistant Secretary in Economic & International Division, Federal Treasury under Ministry of Finance from 1980 to 1981
  • Principal Assistant Secretary in Budget Division, Federal Treasury under Ministry of Finance from 1978 to 1980
  • Assistant Director in Industries Division under Ministry of International Trade & Industry from 1973 to 1978

Membership of Board Committees in MBMR:

  • Nominating and Remuneration Committee (Member)
  • Audit Committee (Chairman)
  • Long Term Incentive Plan Committee (Member)
  • Risk Management and Sustainability Committee (Member)

Date Appointed to the Board

  • 16 January 2018


  • Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants
  • Bachelor degree in Accountancy

Working Experience / Other Directorships


  • Chief Executive Officer of Berjaya Capital Berhad
  • Non-Independent Non- Executive Director of 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Berhad
  • Audit Committee Member of Razak School of Government


  • Acting Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of MARA Corporation Sdn Bhd from 2016 to 2019
  • Chief Operating and Financial Officer of Unitar Capital Sdn Bhd from 2012 to 2016
  • Advisor of ECS Solutions Sdn Bhd from 2011 to 2012
  • Audit and Assurance Director of Ernst & Young from 2008 to 2011
  • Manager under Banking and Capital Market Group of Ernst & Young LLP, London from 2003 to 2008
  • Internal Auditor of Habib Bank AG Zurich from 2002 to 2003
  • Senior Auditor of John Cumming Ross, Ltd in 2001
  • Senior Auditor of Andersen & Co, Malaysia (formerly known as Arthur Andersen & Co) from 1998 to 2001

Membership of Board Committees in MBMR:

  • Audit and Risk Management Committee (Member)
  • Group Transformation Committee* (Member)

*Dissolved on 27 January 2022

Date Appointed to the Board

  • 28 January 2019

Ms. Wong Fay Lee was appointed to the Board as a Non-Executive Director on 29 May 2019. She is currently the Chairman of the Risk Management and Sustainability Committee and a member of the Nominating and Remuneration Committee.

Ms. Wong graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investments from Securities Institute Australia.

She started her career in 1987 as a corporate finance lawyer with Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Sydney, Australia and later as a Senior Associate in Mallesons’ South East Asian practice. She then joined the Malaysian Securities Commission as Manager of Product Development from 1993 to 1995.

Her past leadership positions include serving as Chief Executive Officer at Malaysian Derivatives Clearing House Bhd (now known as Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Berhad) from 1995 to 2000, Adviser to the Clearing Division of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited from 2001 to 2002 and she was also an Independent Director at KFH Asset Management Sdn Bhd from 2002 to 2010.

Ms Wong was previously appointed as an Executive Director in MBMR from 2014 to 2017 while concurrently serving as MBMR’s Head of Governance, Legal Risk & Compliance between 2011 until 2018. She was also appointed as Managing Director of Federal Auto Holdings Berhad from 2016 to 2017.

She is currently the Chairman of Federal Auto Holdings Berhad and a Director at Daihatsu (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Med-Bumikar MARA Sdn Bhd, and Astute Fund Management Berhad (formerly Apex Investment Services Berhad).


  • Bachelor of Economic, International Islamic University Malaysia
  • London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) Higher – Business Statistics
  • Six Sigma – Champion Training, Motorola University

Working Experience / Other Directorships


  • Group Chief Executive Officer
  • Director of Daihatsu (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
  • Director of Federal Auto Holdings Berhad
  • Director of Autoliv Hirotako Sdn Bhd
  • Director of Teck See Plastic Sdn Bhd
  • Director of MBMR Properties Sdn Bhd
  • Director of Oriental Metal Industries (M) Sdn Bhd
  • Director of Hirotako Acoustics Sdn Bhd
  • Director of Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd


  • Head, Automotive Distribution Division, Hicom Holdings Berhad (HHB) – Holding
    company of listed DRB-Hicom Berhad
  • Director, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM)
  • Director, Isuzu Motors Sdn Bhd (IMSB)
  • Director, Edaran Otomobil Nasional (EON)
  • Director, EON Auto Mart Sdn Bhd
  • Director, Euromobil Sdn Bhd
  • Director, Hicom Auto Sdn Bhd
  • Director, AVIS Malaysia
  • Director, ACM
  • Director, DRB-Hicom Commercial Vehicles Sdn Bhd (DHCV)
  • Director, DRB-Hicom Auto Solution Sdn Bhd
  • Senior General Manager – Sales & Marketing Division, Perodua Sales Sdn Bhd
  • General Manager – Sales Division, Perodua Sales Sdn Bhd
  • Deputy General Manager – Sales Operations, Perodua Sales Sdn Bhd
  • Senior Manager – Sales Planning Department, Perodua Sales Sdn Bhd
  • Senior Manager – Distribution Department, Perodua Sales Sdn Bhd
  • Coordinator, MD’s Office, Perodua Sales Sdn Bhd
  • Manager – Market Planning, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd
  • Marketing Manager, UMW Engineering Sdn Bhd
  • Strategic Planning & Business Development Manager, UMW Auto Parts Sdn Bhd
  • Marketing Administration Executive, UMW Heavy Equipment Group
  • Corporate Planning & Project Executive, UMW Corporation Sdn Bhd
  • Economic Analyst, Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers (FMM)

Date Appointed to MBMR

  • 8th February 2021


  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting (Honours), Oklahoma State University, United States of America.
  • Member of Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)

Working Experience / Other Directorships


  • Group Chief Financial Officer of MBM Resources Berhad


  • Group Financial Controller of MBM Resources Berhad
  • Director of Daihatsu (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
  • Director of Federal Auto Holdings Berhad
  • Director of Autoliv Hirotako Sdn Bhd
  • Director of Teck See Plastic Sdn Bhd
  • Acting President & CEO of MBM Resources Berhad
  • Partner of Annbren Management & Consultancy Services
  • Group Financial Controller of Scomi Group Berhad
  • Regional Finance Controller of Scomi Group Berhad, Oilfield services
  • Audit Manager of Ernst & Young

Date Appointed to MBMR

  • 1st November 2016


  • B. A. (Hons) Accounting and Financial Studies, University of Exter, UK
  • Certified Training Professional, ARTDO-ITD International
  • Member, Society for Human Resource Management
  • Member, International Coaching Federation

Working Experience / Other Directorships


  • Director, Group Corporate Services


  • Director, Transformation Office of MBMR Resources Berhad
  • Board of Trustees of Kelab Belia Kalsom (The Kalsom Movement)
  • Director/Head, Group Human Capital of MARA Corporation Sdn Bhd
  • Executive Director, UNITAR International Academy Sdn Bhd
  • Director, Vice Chancellor’s Office of UNITAR International University
  • Head of Collaboration of Arise Asia Sdn Bhd
  • Vice President, Strategic Human Capital Management of Khazanah National Berhad
  • Consultant of Mercer Human Capital Consulting

Date Appointed to MBMR

  • 4th February 2020


2022 was a highly successful year for MBMR with recordbreaking revenue and profits. As we celebrate the Groupwide achievements, we are also proud that the exceptional performance was achieved on the back of progress made in our sustainability strategies and objectives in the year.

Key environmental achievements in 2022 involved the increase in our Group-wide reduce, reuse and recycle initiatives from the preceding year. These initiatives included the installation of solar panels in our manufacturing plants and continued Group-wide upgrades from conventional to LED lighting. We also reduced the Group’s water and electricity intensity consumption even with the resumption of normal operating hours and a substantial increase in our manufacturing numbers.

Waste management saw an improvement along with the expansion of our recycling initiatives. In our manufacturing companies, the continued maintenance of the ISO 14001 environmental management system accreditation provides the assurance to our stakeholders that our operations comply with environmental regulations while also generating cost-savings through more efficient use of resources and waste management.

On the social front, we strongly believe that our investment in people is a key driver of commercial success throughout the Group, underpinned by employee engagement and a firmly integrated culture of employee appreciation, development, diversity and inclusion. From providing a safe working environment, encouraging diversity and inclusion at all levels to remuneration and benefits benchmarking and ensuring that our employees are rewarded for their respective contributions, have access to training and career development opportunities, we will continue to attract and retain the best talent.

The talent development programmes for the upskilling of our employees were undertaken with this belief in mind. We have also expanded the talent development to the communities, most notably our pledge towards the establishment of MBMR’s Scholarship Programme to support the younger generation to gain access to quality education, details of which will be announced in due course.

Additionally, our social sustainability initiatives, which included wellness programmes and our CSR activities throughout the year have helped us in being recognised as a better employer engaged in more responsible business practices. The employee and customer satisfaction surveys conducted have achieved an encouraging score, an indication that our sustainability and business strategieshavehadapositiveeffectonour stakeholders. As we expand our efforts in the respective overarching pillars, it is our hope that the satisfaction scores would increase further.

Concurrently, digitalisation initiatives have also enabled us to build closer relationships with our dealers and customers in our motor trading companies, contributing to better overall sales and service figures. In our manufacturing companies, improved monitoring and adoption of automation has improved the operational efficiencies in our manufacturing plants.

As the Group widens the adoption of digitalisation initiatives, the ongoing deployment of our Data Protection and Cyber Security programmes under the Governance pillar have improved the Group’s Cyber Security infrastructure and awareness.

Our efforts to improve our Group’s businesses are supported by a robust governance, risk management and internal control framework and practices. We aim to instil the highest standards of integrity, honesty, and transparency within the Group. Other significant initiatives under the Governance pillar involve the implementation of fundamental Group-wide policies with the aim of improving overall governance within the Group. This includes the adoption of a new Group Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework to ensure effective identification, assessment and management of the Group’s risks in a holistic manner towards achieving the Group’s business objectives.

We see environmental, social, economic and governance priorities as an important part of our mission to be the automotive partner of choice to our stakeholders. Through our ongoing investments in knowledge development and management, operational excellence, innovative technology adoption and digitalisation, we continue to drive our businesses to directly address these pillars to help in ensuring the sustainability of our planet. We do not see an alternative. Therefore, we believe continuous improvements in the material sustainability matters that we have identified are aligned with delivering sustainable returns to our shareholders. Having embarked on our transformation journey since 2019 and with our commitment to continue on that course, we aim to deliver additional and continuous improvements.

Moving forward, existing initiatives undertaken by the Group under all four pillars of sustainability will be further refined and expanded. The Group will also seek to further improve disclosures in line with recent enhanced sustainability reporting requirements.

Encik Aqil bin Ahmad Azizuddin