Entrepreneur Tey Por Yee, or better known as Larry Tey, had a rough ride on some of his investments last year. At least that is what certain interest parties wanted the market to believe. Some local publications even questioned the dubious “man made turbulence” surrounding Larry’s investments some how irritating, which many points the finger to one of Larry’s ungrateful investee. Larry refused to comment except giving the journalist a confident smile.
Study closely what this mysterious businessman had achieved in the past would be stunning yet adventurous discovery – Larry had been in business since the 90’s, mostly overseas, and he survived few economy crisis and business cycles. At the turn of each cycle, he emerges stronger for some reasons, in quantum leap. What he had achieved, Larry seems care less of short term perception, nor his competitors self-fulfilling prophecy (inner struggling) trying to undermine his progress. Short term obstacle does not bother him much and perhaps his dedication is the secret of success. It’s just that simple. That is how inspiring a steady entrepreneur gave me his first impression, which totally blown me away on my timid imagination, shy to say, some how under estimated the visionary business leader by the whole nine yards!
Explored a little deeper into his business universe, one would find that Larry builds his business network mostly overseas, and only recent years (since year 2012) he came back to his home country (Malaysia) for some corporate rescue deal. This is the first time local market notice his investments locally, where Larry first emerges as a substantial shareholder in a public listed company Protasco Bhd, when the controlling block was crossed off market to his investment company.
The brave cash deal investment is not without notice, and shows his capabilities into sizable M&A muscle game. On the other hand, many would have though Larry’s first (local) public listed vehicle, Nexgram Group, is just a small outfit. “If he can lift a RM500million public listed company and leaves the operation to the existing management without even sitting on the board, that shows his confidence and trust in his investments, and also explains the potential scale and scope of his portfolio – it’s scary to imagine Larry has larger plans he needs to focus rather than spending time on the small plate. However this time around, he would be a better player having bitten his hand who feeds”, commented an International banker. “It would be interesting to watch how he would turn a small outfit into a conglomerate”, added the banker.
Zoom into what most of the successful corporate players did to their investment, would find similar trails. Their investment model is simple – by investing in small companies and turn around, restructure and set ready to facilitate growth by merger and acquisition. This is the same method used by professional corporate entrepreneurs in the West, as well as businessman in most of Asian corporate world, except differences in financial instruments to fit different culture. Many of these movers and shakers would bring along friendly associates and manage private funds for their investors, which shows cutting few hundred million deal such as to help a construction company to complete a controlling stake take over looks dwarfed when one discovers how far reach Larry has build his plans through his portfolio world wide, leveraging on his investors strength.
Takes Nexgram Group for example. Despite being a public listed company, Larry has no time to expand its business since IPO some 10 years ago. However, things started to change. In Nexgram’s 17-years history, the company made few acquisitions, both vertical and horizontal, to diversify from single industry reliance – a natural evolution of many conglomerates. The growth was slow not until recently. When Larry does pays attention, earth moves. The last deal was more than 1 year ago, where the company spent over RM28 million to invest in surveillance solution provider, Sensorlink Group. Compared to fast growing global technology giants where M&A deals closed every few weeks or days, Malaysian type of growth looks old aged.
Despite market condition, that is not going to stop the visionary leader to make his moves. Nexgram Group CEO Larry Tey Por Yee told investors after the company Annual General Meeting (October 2015), that he’s open to more acquisitions if they can help speed up the business group master plan. The company under went group wise consolidation and targets to complete a series of exercises within next few years. “The risk-diversification is incredibly important to conglomerate like Nexgram, and the company has high hopes the achieve minimum 3 pillars of different industry diversification with 3 sources of income to support the group mission – to be a top 500 global enterprise. If he can help his clients did it in the past, he can do it for his own” commented an International fund manager.
“Anything we can do to tighten that time frame organically, as an acquisition, is a good thing,” said Larry.
Larry’s plan was slightly off schedule until second half of the year, the group had finally identified key areas of improvement, by restructuring the team and business processes. Ever the perfectionist, Larry has said that he’d rather “forgo revenue, rather than continue with a stagnant and low productivity system and sending a product to market that does not delight customers,” as he commented in media briefing.
Today he told investors that Nexgram is working to complete the group consolidation plan “as soon as humanly possible.” While the global market is weak and stabilizing, Larry is on shopping spree. “It takes courage and foresight to be an entrepreneur. Buy when everyone is panic, sell when everyone is greedy.” Added the entrepreneur turn venture capitalist.