Malaysia's Khazanah says it is not sellling Plus highway operator, after reports of suitors

As a state investor, Khazanah is concerned about the sale of strategic assets such as Plus to private companies without considering the cost to the public.
As a state investor, Khazanah is concerned about the sale of strategic assets such as Plus to private companies without considering the cost to the public.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional is not interested in selling Plus Malaysia Bhd, the country's biggest expressway toll firm, its managing director said in comments following media reports of interested parties.

Mr Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said Khazanah, which owns 51 per cent of Plus, has received multiple offers for the highway operator and turned all of them down.

"Our reply to all of them is very simple: We are not interested in selling," Datuk Shahril said in an interview aired on Malaysian news channel TV3 late on Saturday (Oct 5).

Khazanah subsidiary UEM Group and state pension fund EPF together bought Plus for RM32 billion (S$10.5 billion at current conversion rate) in 2011.

Reuters reported last week that a consortium led by Asian private equity group RRJ Capital had submitted a proposal to buy Plus for RM3 billion which, if successful, promised to see toll rates cut by 20 per cent.

Local media have also reported a bid from local highway operator Maju Holdings.

Neither RRJ nor Maju responded to Reuters' e-mailed requests for comment on Sunday.

Mr Shahril said suitors, whom he did not identify, were offering a much lower price than Plus' real value.

"What they are doing is they want to take money from us by paying us basically a substandard price and using that difference in value to offer a discount," he said. "You should offer the fair market price... If you want to have a discount, then it's up to you. It should be from your profit, not from us."

 

As a state investor, Khazanah is also concerned about the sale of strategic assets such as Plus to private companies without considering the cost to the public, Mr Shahril said.

"If you were to allow a private party to take over Plus, and that party suddenly made a lot of profit, people will be very unhappy," he said.