Widad Group offers RM3b to take over PLUS highway concessionaire. NSTP photo by MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN

KUALA LUMPUR: PLUS Malaysia Bhd has attracted another company wanting to take over the country’s largest highway operator.

Little known Widad Group Bhd has offered to buy either a 51 per cent stake or all 100 per cent stake in PLUS, which is now held by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Widad said it had made two offer options – acquiring 51 per cent of Khazanah's interests at RM1.5 billion in cash, with the remaining interest held by the EPF, or acquiring 100 per cent of Khazanah and EPF's interests at RM3 billion cash.

In a statement, the group said the proposed takeover had been submitted to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Economic Affairs on October 9.

The highways involved in the PLUS concession are North-South Expressway, Second Link Expressway, Penang Bridge, North South Expressway Central Link, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway and Seremban-Port Dickson Highway.

The two deals included a RM2.7 billion government remittance resulting from the abolition of tolls at Plaza Batu Tiga and Bukit Kayu Hitam.

The offer has taken into account additional concessions period of 20 years from the date the existing concession ends.

In this regard, Widad said, the first option was seen as more viable as it focused on private public partnership.

The group said it had also identified global strategic partners and investors to provide funds for the potential acquisition.

This in addition to the company's internal funds and proposals to raise funds through sukuk and equity issues.

Widad Goup executive chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ikmal Opat Abdullah said if the company succeeded in taking over the concession, it would reduce the toll rate by 25-40 per cent.

“The reduction in toll rates is in line with the government's intention to reduce the burden on highways users thus fulfilling government manifestos and meeting current government policy requirements,” he said.

Widad said it intends to exempt the government from paying compensation of RM338.5 million to PLUS that is overdue on December 31, 2018.

“We will upgrade existing facilities, implement the use of artificial intelligence technology to improve smoothness and traffic management besides ensuring that there are no layoffs in the five years following the acquisition,” he said.

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