October 6, 2019 / 7:40 AM / 4 months ago

Khazanah says it will not sell PLUS Malaysia after reports of suitors

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd 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.

Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said Khazanah, which owns 51% 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,” Shahril said in an interview aired on Malaysian news channel TV3 late on Saturday.

Reuters reported last week that a consortium led by Asian private equity group RRJ Capital had submitted a proposal to buy PLUS for 3 billion ringgit ($717.02 million) which, if successful, promised to see toll rates cut by 20%.

Local media have also reported a bid from Maju Holdings.

Neither RRJ nor Maju responded to Reuters’ emailed requests for comment on Sunday.

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, 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.

Khazanah subsidiary UEM Group Bhd and state pension fund EPF together bought PLUS for 32 billion ringgit in 2011. ($1 = 4.1840 ringgit)

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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