Govt rejects Maju Holdings’ bid to take over PLUS

Maju Holdings is proposing a 25% reduction in toll rates to get a 10-year extension

pic by TMR

THE government has rejected Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd’s initial proposal to take over highway operator PLUS Malaysia Bhd, following objections from PLUS’ major shareholders Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the ministry had made a preliminary decision after considering the stakeholders’ views.

“We have received many proposals from various parties and when we make a decision, it is based on the main shareholders,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

“At this juncture, Khazanah and EPF are not agreeable to the takeover. But the final decision will still be guided by the prime minister,” Lim added.

A local newspaper recently reported that Maju Holdings had given four offers, all subject to the government extending the company’s concession by another 30 years, from 2038 to 2068.

Among others, Maju Holdings has proposed a 25% reduction in toll rates to get a 10-year extension or a 30% toll reduction for a 15-year extension.

The report also stated that the company wants the government to maintain its guarantee on PLUS’ debt structure throughout the concession and the extension period.

Apart from that, it proposed a RM5.3 billion expenditure over the concession period to light up the whole highway.

Khazanah holds a 51% stake through its wholly owned subsidiary UEM Group Bhd, while EPF holds the remaining 49%.

UEM Group and EPF took over the assets and liabilities of PLUS in a RM23 billion privatisation exercise in 2011.

Lim said the government will still meet Maju Holdings to deliberate its latest proposal.

In 2017, Maju Holdings group executive chairman Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed was reported to have put in a bid for RM36 billion to take over PLUS.

The plan involved freezing toll rates for the next 20 years until the end of the concession period and to reduce government contingent liabilities by RM30 billion.

Maju Holdings was also willing to forfeit the government’s compensation of about RM900 million owed to the toll road operator.

The Finance Ministry had said then the government has no plans to let go of its stake in the largest highway operator.

PLUS operates some of the most lucrative highways in the country, including the Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan Bhd, which has under its umbrella the 772km North-South Expressway (the main revenue generator), New Klang Valley Expressway, Federal Highway Route 2 and the Seremban-Port Dickson Highway.

Other PLUS-owned concessions include the Expressway Lingkaran Tengah Sdn Bhd, which has the North-South Expressway Central Link; Linkedua (M) Bhd, which owns the Malaysia-Singapore Second Crossing; Konsortium Lebuhraya Butterworth-Kulim Sdn Bhd, which operates the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway; and the Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd.