Nexbis Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian company that has reportedly hammered out one of the largest deals ever seen in Cambodia, has recently taken flak from the Australian media.
The government announced Monday that Nexbis had signed a massive deal to work with Cambodia’s national security systems in areas such as printing passports, identity cards and visas. Government officials and Nexbis representatives, however, have declined to comment on the specifics of the deal.
While virtually nothing is known of the company in Cambodia, the firm is familiar to Australian business reporters.
Formerly known as Entertainment Media & Telecoms Corporation Limited, Nexbis Sdn Bhd is wholly owned by Nexbis Limited, which is a publicly listed company on the Australian Securities Exchange. The company has yet to file an announcement with the ASX regarding its reported deal in Cambodia.
In March, The Sydney Morning Herald wrote that Nexbis has “baffled the market with its knack for announcing lucrative Asian government security contracts, only to have the trail go cold before the deals bear fruit.”
The article went on to explain that the company had partnered with an outfit called CITP—a Hong Kong subsidiary of a US company—for a deal in China supplying identity cards to purchasers of gas cylinders. The deal was described as Nexbis’ “only successful securities deal to date.”
Just after that article appeared, Nexbis announced a $16 million investment in the Australian security technology business TrustDefender. The Sydney Morning Herald article said that further investments were made in March to two companies, including UKI (Asia Pacific), which has close links to CITP.
“Presumably, it is coincidence that the total amount paid by Nexbis…by way of the China contract security deposit…almost exactly matches the cash that has flowed into Nexbis’ bank account from the gas tank project,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
In a separate article that same month, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that “many investors struggle to comprehend what exactly the technology company Nexbis Limited does.”
In August last year the share price of Nexbis stood at AU$0.55 Since then it has plummeted, closing at AU$0.15 yesterday in Sydney.
Nexbis announced in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange in April that a proposed investment in UKI (Asia Pacific) would not proceed.
While an array of government officials say they are unaware of the details of the Nexbis deal, the opposition SRP has criticized the proposed outlay, saying it was done behind closed doors and without a proper bidding process.
Hang Chuon Naron, secretary general of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, said he was unaware of the deal and doubted the accuracy of the reported $700 million amount.
“I don’t have any information about this. But I think it is not realistic,” Mr Chuon Naron said yesterday. “I don’t know if the information is correct or not.”
According to copies of the agreements obtained on Monday, the mega-deal is between Nexbis Sdn Bhd and the Ministry of Interior and will span over 15 years. The deal is due to commence in June or July this year.