by AZREEN HANI/ pic by BLOOMBERG
KHAZANAH Nasional Bhd has refuted allegations that the fund is planning to dispose of its stake in Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to London-based airport management company VINCI and Gatwick Airports.
According to sources familiar with the matter, such claims are “entirely baseless” and the stake in the airport operator has always been part of the state-owned fund strategic mandate.
“It is totally inaccurate to say that we are selling our stakes to a foreign party,” one source told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) under the condition of anonymity.
It is not known whether the fund has other plans for MAHB which is deemed as a strategic asset to the country.
MAHB has been consistently profitable and delivering dividends to their shareholders.
Khazanah is presently the single largest shareholder with a 33.21% stake in the airport operator. Other shareholders in MAHB are the Employees Provident Fund with 12.21%, Blackrock Inc (3.56%) and Vanguard Group Inc (2.02%), according to Bloomberg’s data.
The company is valued at RM14.2 billion based on its closing price of RM8.56 at yesterday’s closing. Khazanah’s stake is valued at RM4.7 billion.
Local Malay daily Utusan Malaysia reported that Khazanah would sell its stake to VINCI and Gatwick Airports.
The report quoted former PKR leader Badrul Hisham Shaharin as saying that MAHB would be sold to Gatwick Airport, which, he said, has no successful track record in management.
Discussions on the sale, according to Badrul Hisham, took place sometime in May this year. Badrul Hisham’s claims and Utusan Malaysia’s report could not be verified by TMR.
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, who shared the report on his Facebook page, wrote that the sale of MAHB would mean the country’s entry point would be controlled by foreigners.
Last July, The Edge Weekly reported that Khazanah is looking at strategic partnerships for Malaysia Airlines Bhd and MAHB to improve the management and increase their profitability and value.
MAHB CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin had said he was not aware of such deals.
“I have no idea. I have never heard of it. I (only) read it from here (the report),” he said in July.
The Gatwick Airport (picture) is owned by VINCI Airports and Global Infrastructure Partners.
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 including in the US, the UK, Japan, France, Sweden, Portugal, Serbia, Brazil, Chile, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.