MAHB chief says not aware of stake sale plan by Khazanah

A financial daily has reported the sovereign investment fund is looking at strategic tie-ups to pare its stake in MAHB

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by TMR File

MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is not aware of its controlling shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, possible plans to divest a stake in the airport operator, group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin (picture) said.

He was commenting on the reports of the discussion held between UK’s Gatwick Airport and Khazanah, for Gatwick to take up a stake in MAHB, with the sovereign fund retaining 10% to 20% from 33.2% held now.

“I have no idea. I have never heard of it. I (only) read it from here (the report),” he told reporters after attending a ceremony to welcome AirArabia’s inaugural flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Selangor yesterday.

Last Monday, quoting sources, a financial daily reported the sovereign investment fund is looking at strategic tie-ups to pare its stake in MAHB and Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) to partners that can manage them and increase their profitability and value.

MAHB has a market value of RM4.83 billion as at last June. The Gatwick Airport, on the other hand, has been managed by VINCI Airports and Global Infrastructure Partners since 2009.

VINCI Airports recently acquired 50.01% of the airport operators while Global Infrastructure Partners took up the remaining 49.99%.

VINCI Airports manages the development and operations of 46 airports in the US, the UK, Japan, France, Sweden, Portugal, Serbia, Brazil, Chile, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, among others.

The financial weekly reported that after hitting a 52-week low of RM6.60 on April 11, MAHB’s share price gained 28.59% to close at RM8.50 on June 26, giving the company a market capitalisation of RM14.1 billion.

In its first three months of the 2019 financial year (FY2019), MAHB registered a net profit of RM149.58 million on revenue of RM1.25 billion, leading to talks that selling of a stake in MAHB could be part of the government’s plan to raise money to alleviate its debt burden.

Last year, Khazanah entered into an agreement with Japan’s Mitsui & Co Ltd to sell a 16% stake in IHH Healthcare Bhd at RM6 per share for RM8.42 billion cash.

In a three day visit to London last month, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Putrajaya is considering easing the inherited debt from the previous government, through the sales of several government stakes.

He, however, said the asset must have been identified as “not contributing to the nation”.

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