The government has apparently decided that PLUS Malaysia will not be sold and will remain under the control of current shareholders Khazanah Nasional and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), The Edge Markets reports, citing inside sources.
The sources told the publication that the highway concession agreement with PLUS will however be restructured with an aim to reduce toll rates for the benefit of the people. It was previously reported that motorists would stand to enjoy up to 18% discount in toll rates on the NSE following a takeover, as announced during Budget 2020.
The Cabinet had discussed the topic of PLUS on Wednesday, as confirmed by finance minister Lim Guan Eng. He however stated that any announcement on the matter by the government would be in writing, as it was a major announcement.
The country’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah, via UEM Group, owns 51% of PLUS, with EPF holding the remaining 49%. Highways operated by PLUS are the North-South Expressway (NSE), Second Link Expressway, Penang Bridge, North-South Expressway Central Link, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway and Seremban-Port Dickson Highway.
Yesterday, Khazanah said via a statement that the government has been engaging the shareholders of PLUS with the objective of reducing the burden of tolls on highway users, relieving the government of compensation pressures, as well as respecting the value of the highway concession for existing debt and equity holders.
The souces added that the government had not made a decision yet on the proposed takeover of four Klang Valley highways operated by Gamuda. The highways are the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (Sprint), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (Kesas) and the Smart Tunnel.
In December, Lim had said that the Cabinet would make a decision on the proposed takeover of PLUS as well as the Gamuda-operated highways sometime in January, as it needed to decide on the matter quickly to avoid paying further compensation to the concessionaires over frozen toll hikes.
The government received four offers last year for the takeover of PLUS, these being from Widad Group, Maju Holdings, RRJ Capital and Tan Sri Halim Saad’s vehicle Karongsa Private Capital.