KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (Reuters) Malaysian consumer-credit firm RCE Capital Bhd said it is interested in buying control of Malaysia Building Society , but shares in Malaysia Building fell after another potential bidder ruled itself out.
''We have expressed an interest but we have not got a response yet,'' RCE Capital Executive Chairman Azman Hashim told reporters when asked about a Star newspaper report, citing unnamed sources, that it was bidding for a 54 percent stake in the society from the state-run pension fund the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
But shares of Malaysia Building drooped after Kuwait Finance House , the Gulf's second largest Islamic lender by market value, denied the Star report it too was interested in the majority stake.
''Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Bhd is not part of and never has been involved in the negotiations in connection with the proposed sale of EPF's stake in Malaysia Building Society,'' Salman Younis said in a statement.
Shares of Malaysia Building fell 4 percent to 1.50 ringgit at 0811 GMT after touching an earlier high of 1.59 ringgit. RCE gained 3.6 percent to 87.5 sen a share.
EPF owned 62.41 percent of Malaysia Building as of April 25, according to its latest annual report. A 54 percent stake is worth about 300 million ringgit ($87.6 million) based on the society's last-traded share price of 1.55 ringgit.
Malaysia Building has total assets of 6.65 billion ringgit ($1.94 billion), according to its last quarterly report, and is seen as attractive because it focuses on mortgages, a fast-growing market, and also is allowed to operate without a licence.
The Star newspaper had reported earlier on Tuesday that Kuwait Finance and RCE were the two parties keen on the controlling stake. Another bidder, Bank Rakyat, had bowed out of the race because of the fund's asking price, the paper had added.
Asked why RCE Capital was interested in the society, Azman said: ''For RCE it makes some sense. ''We are in the financing business and MBSB is a financial house. If we want to expand, that's one way to do it.'' Azman described his approach as very preliminary.
The EPF wants a price equivalent to 2.4 times book value, the newspaper said. Based on the society's net asset value of 1.29 ringgit per share reported as of Dec. 31, 2006, the asking price would amount to around 3 ringgit a share.
Azman said RCE Capital wasn't acting in concert with Kuwait Finance House. ''At the moment we are on our own,'' he said.
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