Azmin: Govt will only accept Plus take-over if new owner can guarantee abolishing tolls

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will only accept private companies taking over Plus Malaysia Bhd, the country’s biggest expressway toll concessionaire, if they can guarantee to abolish tolls.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said that it would contradict Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto if Plus was sold to a private entity that would still charge tolls or hike up the rates.

“Khazanah’s stance is clear. If they sell Plus, can the buyer guarantee to decrease toll charges or abolish tolls? Of course not.

“The private sector has a profit-oriented approach and they want something that can be profitable.

“We are not about profits, Khazanah and EPF wants to serve road-users.

“Unless there is a private party that wants to buy it and abolish tolls, good luck to you if you can get it (Plus),” Mohamed Azmin told reporters at Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 30).

The government sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd owns 51% of PLUS, while the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) owns the remaining 49%.

“Now, Plus is owned by Khazanah and EPF. Why do you want to privatise it?

“We don’t want to burden the people and road-users because it’s in our manifesto (to abolish tolls).

“We will discuss together with all highway concessionaires in phases to decrease the burden on road-users,” he said.

Earlier, Khazanah managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said it was not in the “mood” to sell Plus, and that there was no bidding process going on.

He also said that he felt the same way as Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in that all of the offers so far had been unattractive.

Mohamed Azmin confirmed that the government had indeed received several proposals but that Khazanah and Plus needed to look into them first before the government could decide.

“The proposals came from various parties and I trust Khazanah will ensure and guarantee that the processes are open and transparent,” he said.

News emerged on Wednesday (Oct 30) that Widad Business Group Sdn Bhd has upped its offer to acquire 100% equity interest in Plus at a total enterprise value of RM38.34bil.

This includes RM5.3bil for the equity interest, RM3.04bil compensation waiver and RM30bil debt assumption.

Other offers for Plus are from businessman Tan Sri Halim Saad, who partnered with Datuk Wong Gian Kui, to take over the whole equity holding of Plus for RM5.2bil.

Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd, the operator of Maju Expressway, had also submitted its offer to acquire Plus at an enterprise value of RM34.9bil including Plus’ debt to its bondholders.

Related stories:

No mood to sell PLUS, says Khazanah MD

Is the government keeping PLUS?

PM: No interesting bids for PLUS yet

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