Khazanah says 'not in the mood' to sell Malaysia's biggest toll-road operator PLUS

Malaysia's sovereign fund Khazanah has a 51 per cent stake in Plus through its UEM Group subsidiary.
Malaysia's sovereign fund Khazanah has a 51 per cent stake in Plus through its UEM Group subsidiary.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - There are three private offers on the table to take over Malaysia's biggest toll-road operator PLUS Malaysia, but the managing director of the company's majority shareholder, Khazanah Nasional, said the government is in no mood to sell it away.

Malaysia's sovereign fund Khazanah has a 51 per cent stake in Plus through its UEM Group subsidiary.

The remaining 49 per cent of PLUS is held by the state pension fund Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

PLUS operates Malaysia's longest highway, the 748km North-South Expressway, and six other highways.

"We are not in the mood of selling the asset and we actually haven't got any kind of bidding process going on," Khazanah's managing director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan told reporters on Wednesday (Oct 30), as reported by Bernama news agency.

He said after attending an event that he is on the same page as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that the offers made were unattractive.

"Tun (Dr Mahathir) already mentioned that none of the offers are attractive. So, I leave it at that," Datuk Shahril was quoted by Bernama as saying.

The Malaysian government is mulling over how to reduce toll-road fees, to fulfil its election promise and amid complaints over high living costs.

The Pakatan Harapan government has also been studying ways to raise cash to reduce its total debts, after it took over from the previous Barisan Nasional administration.

 

The offers for PLUS have been made by Maju Holdings which operates a highway in Kuala Lumpur, construction player Widad Business Group, and Karongsa Private Capital, a firm led by businessman Halim Saad and Asian private equity group RRJ.

The UEM Group and EPF together bought PLUS for RM32 billion (S$10.5 billion) in 2011.

Widad on Wednesday made an improved offer on its proposal to take over 100 per cent of PLUS, with a RM38.34 billion offer.

This includes RM5.3 billion for the equity interest, RM3.04 billion compensation waiver and RM30 billion debt assumption, the news agency said.

Karongsa offered to take over PLUS' whole equity holding for RM5.2 billion.

Maju, the operator of Maju Expressway, had submitted its offer to acquire PLUS for RM34.9 billion, including PLUS's debt to its bondholders.