Halim submits RM5.2b bid for Khazanah’s 51% stake in PLUS

The businessman is now in a dog-fight with several other parties who have also tendered their bids for PLUS

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

TAN Sri Halim Saad has offered to acquire Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s entire stake in PLUS Malaysia Bhd for RM5.2 billion as the prominent businessman seeks to reconnect with his once prized asset.

The former executive chairman of Renong Bhd, the predecessor of UEM Group Bhd, has submitted the bid to buy Khazanah’s 51% stake in PLUS in an offer letter dated Oct 11, 2019.

The offer letter was sent to Works Minister Baru Bian and was sighted by The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

In the highest bid made so far by any parties for cash-minting PLUS, Halim has also proposed a 25% discount on toll rates and for the concession period to end as per status quo — December 2038.

Halim, the executive vice chairman of Sumatec Resources Bhd, partners Datuk Wong Gian Kui in the quest to acquire Khazanah’s stake in PLUS, based on the offer letter to the government. Wong sits on the board of Insas Bhd, Inari Amertron Bhd, Ho Hup Construction Co Bhd, SYF Resources Bhd and Yi-Lai Bhd.

Halim, when contacted by TMR, confirmed his RM5.2 billion bid for PLUS.

The businessman, who was once one of the most prominent Malay entrepreneurs, is now in a dog-fight with several other parties who have tendered their bids for PLUS.

PLUS concessionaires are the North-South Expressway (NSE), Second Link Expressway, Penang Bridge, North-South Expressway Central Link, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway and Seremban-Port Dickson Highway.

In his analysis, Halim said PLUS had collected more than RM24.5 billion in toll revenue since 2012.

He also questioned the reason why PLUS has an unpaid debt of about RM30 billion when the tender price for the concession awarded to UEM/PLUS in 1988 was at a tender price of RM3.4 billion.

Halim also said in the offer letter that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) that owns a 49% stake in PLUS can retain its shareholding if it wishes to do so.

This is not the first time Halim, who was responsible for the construction of the 772km NSE, has tried to reconnect with his crown property which propelled him into an industry titan.

He lost ownership of the company following the East Asia 1997/98 financial crisis. Last week, a little known construction company Widad Business Group Sdn Bhd offered to buy either 51% or 100% of PLUS from the two shareholders.

Widad submitted a bid of RM1.5 billion cash for the 51% stake owned by Khazanah or RM3 billion for the total shareholding in PLUS.

The firm’s bid proposition included remittances and reduction of toll rates by 25% to 40%, but another 20 years’ concession will be added from the date the existing date concession ends.

A Hong Kong-based private equity firm RRJ Capital also made a RM3.5 billion revised bid to acquire the country’s largest tolled highway concession holder.

The company offered toll discounts of up to 30% based on new cars’ price tags and plans to demolish toll booths to ease traffic congestion.

Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd has also revised its bid by including greater toll discounts of up to 36% and forgoing the RM2.7 billion owed by the government to PLUS.

Khazanah MD Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan recently said the state-owned fund is not interested in selling PLUS. The government is deliberating on all of the offers.