Malaysia's state investment firm 1MDB 'risks default'

A woman walks past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard in Kuala Lumpur. Several Malaysian banks could pull the plug on Malaysia's state investment firm 1MDB unless it repays a RM2 billion (S$758 million) loan by the end of this month, re
A woman walks past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard in Kuala Lumpur. Several Malaysian banks could pull the plug on Malaysia's state investment firm 1MDB unless it repays a RM2 billion (S$758 million) loan by the end of this month, reports say. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Several Malaysian banks could pull the plug on Malaysia's state investment firm 1MDB unless it repays a RM2 billion (S$758 million) loan by the end of this month, reports say.

These banks have already twice allowed 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to roll over payment but the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Malaysian Insider have said the banks will not allow it again.

When contacted, 1MDB declined to comment yesterday.

The WSJ reported on its website that there was a risk that 1MDB could default, which could allow the banks to seize assets pledged by the investment fund by the end of the month. The Malaysian Insider reported that the deadline is Feb 18.

A source familiar with the issue in Kuala Lumpur told The Straits Times: "One is reporting one date, and the other, another date. There seem to be mixed messages on this."

He described the media reports as "speculation".

A 1MDB subsidiary, Powertek Investment Holdings, took the loan as part of a deal to refinance a 2012 bridging loan as the fund went on a buying spree, adding power plants to its portfolio.

The financial affairs of the six-year-old 1MDB have attracted controversy, with the fund reporting a net loss of RM665.4 million for its financial year ended March 31, 2014.

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, chairman of the government's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said reports of the planned move by the banks were "news to me". But, he added, " it would certainly raise concern of the PAC".

The Malaysian Insider said 1MDB's lenders include Maybank, RHB, Alliance Investment Bank and the Malaysia Building Society.

reme@sph.com.sg