KUALA LUMPUR: The government will study offers to take over Plus Highway Bhd, including bids from abroad, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said this when asked about the offer made by a Hong Kong and Singapore-based equity firm, RRJ Capital to take over Plus Highway reportedly with an offer of RM3 billion.
“Any bidding by firms (to take over Plus) will be studied by the government. We will entertain the offer if it suits our needs.
“The government can sell it off but we must have something in return,” he told reporters at Parliament here today.
On Oct 3, the media reported that RRJ Capital is also co-owned by Malaysian brothers Richard and Charles Ong which proposed the RM3 billion bid to sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the parent company of Plus.
If the offer was accepted, they were to reduce toll rates by 20 per cent across highways under the concessionaire.
Sources told the New Straits Times that another proposal has been made to take over 15 highways, including the North South Expressway (NSE), which is valued at RM43 billion.
Khazanah owns 51 per cent of Plus Malayisa via UEM Group Bhd while the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) holds the remaining 49 per cent.
The premier was also asked on the speculation that Japan Airlines is interested in acquiring Khazanah-owned Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) stakes.
Dr Mahathir said there have been several proposals to take over Khazanah’s shares in MAS but he has yet to get the details made by the bidders.
He also said it will be up to Khazanah to decide which bid would be best to take over the national carrier.
“I have not spoken to them, there have been numerous contenders, including many proposals from local companies. However, it will be up to Khazanah to decide,” he said.
Khazanah took over the airline in 2014, and injected RM300 million into the national air carrier to keep it afloat.
Among the bids to take over the airlines was reportedly made by AirAsia co-founder Datuk Pahamin Ab Rajab, Weststar Group, as well as two foreign airlines – Qatar Airways and Japan Airlines.