Govt will consider all offers for PLUS acquisition, says Mahathir

07 Oct 2019 / 14:36 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will consider all offers for the acquisition of PLUS Malaysia Bhd if the price is right, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Whatever offers by whoever it is will be reviewed by the government,” he told a press conference in Parliament, here today.

“If the offer is suitable to our demands, then we will entertain them,” he added.

Mahathir was asked to comment on reports that a Malaysian-led Hong Kong-based private equity firm, RRJ Capital, has laid out a revised, improved offer to the government to acquire PLUS Malaysia for RM3.5 billion.

As part of the proposal, the firm looks to offer toll discounts of up to 30% based on certain criteria as well as demolish toll booths to ease traffic congestion.

RRJ Capital chairman Richard Ong had also previously said the ambition was to modernise PLUS into a high-tech and automated highway.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which owns 51% of PLUS Malaysia via UEM Group Bhd, had said on Sunday that it has no intention of selling the highway operator to any party, and that the group has rejected all takeover offers to date.

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) holds the remaining 49% of PLUS Malaysia.

Asked whether the sale of PLUS Malaysia would help improve the country’s coffers, Mahathir said there is already a committee set up to specifically look into ways to reduce the national debt.

“They will provide their opinion and suggestions to us on how to reduce our debt,” he said.

Last month, Mahathir had said that the government was looking to sell some of its assets to raise funds and help improve the country’s financial situation.

He had also said that Khazanah would sell its assets deemed “not useful” to pay off the firm’s debts, but said there was no decision yet as to whether all its assets would be laid off.

On speculation that Japan Airlines Co Ltd could acquire Khazanah-owned Malaysia Airlines Bhd, Mahathir said he has not spoken to Khazanah yet on the matter, but noted that there are several contenders for the acquisition of the ailing national airline.

“This includes many local companies too. But ultimately, it is up to Khazanah to decide,” he said.

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