[Updated] Govt supports MAHB privatisation but will not sell stake to external parties - Loke

PUTRAJAYA: The government supports Khazanah Nasional Bhd's decision to privatise Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), said Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

However, Loke said the decision does not mean the government will sell its stake in MAHB to external parties.

He said through this decision, Khazanah, the national asset manager with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), will form a consortium that will acquire a larger share in MAHB.

"That is a decision made by Khazanah. The Transport Ministry is only the regulator for MAHB. They decided to privatise MAHB, and we support Khazanah's move.

"As I said, we are not selling. There are claims saying the government is selling MAHB. The consortium that will be formed by Khazanah and EPF will acquire a larger share in MAHB.

"Currently, the government does not control the shareholding of MAHB because it's in the open market," he told reporters in a press conference after chairing the National Logistic Task Force meeting today.

He added that this decision is also expected to help make strategic decisions for MAHB without going through the board's bureaucracy.

"After privatisation, Khazanah will form a consortium. The implementation of MAHB will be faster, and decisions will no longer need the endorsement of the board of directors.

"Previously, any decision had to consider differing views from the government. When taken private as a strategic asset, decisions can be made quickly."

Loke also insisted he did not deceive Parliament in March when he said an opposition lawmaker's claim about the planned deal to privatise MAHB was just an assumption.

He said he merely responded to the information presented by Machang member of parliament Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal that MAHB was to be sold to Global Infrastructures Partners, a logistics investment fund owned by one of the world's biggest asset managers, Blackrock, which he said was inaccurate.

"I stand by what I said, he said MAHB was going to be sold to GIP, which is not true, so, I did not mislead Parliament."

A consortium led by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and EPF on Wednesday made a voluntary conditional offer to take over all 1.12 billion outstanding shares of MAHB for about RM12.3 billion or RM11 each.

The consortium, called Gateway Development Alliance (GDA), also consists of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), one of the world's leading infrastructure investors with experience in owning and managing airports.

Once the offer is fully completed, Khazanah will increase its ownership in MAHB from 33.2 per cent to 40 per cent, while EPF from 7.9 per cent to 30 per cent.

Collectively, Malaysian investors will own 70 per cent of MAHB shares, while ADIA and GIP will have the remaining 30 per cent.

The government will retain its special shareholding in MAHB, and the chairman and chief executive officer will continue to be appointed from among Malaysians.

MAHB is among the world's largest airport operator groups in terms of the number of passengers handled.

It manages and operates 39 airports in Malaysia and one international airport in Istanbul, Turkey.

The airports it operates in Malaysia consist of five international airports, 16 domestic airports and 18 short take-off and landing airports.

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