PETALING JAYA: Two shareholders of PLUS Malaysia Bhd – the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and UEM Group Bhd – have reiterated that they have no intention to sell their stakes in the country’s largest highway concessionaire.
UEM Group has a 51% stake in PLUS, while the EPF owns the remaining 49%.
Yesterday, the EPF and UEM Group confirmed that they had received a takeover offer from Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd for their stakes in PLUS, but said they “have no intention of selling our respective stakes”.
Maju is controlled by businessman Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed, who has been in the news for his intention to buy PLUS highways.
The offer comes three years after Tan Sri Halim Saad sought to buy over PLUS.
In 2014, Halim made his second bid to take over PLUS, four years after his first attempt to take over PLUS and other highway concessionaires for RM50bil was turned down.
However, the government turned down his second attempt to take over the highway operator too.
Halim was the former executive chairman of Renong Bhd and oversaw the construction of the 772-km North-South Expressway (NSE), which is the mainstay of PLUS.
On Abu Sahid’s offer for PLUS, both the EPF and UEM Group said they were reviewing the offer letter, but also stated that they were not selling their stakes in the highway operator.
Abu Sahid, through his private vehicles, has assets such as Maju Junction, Maju Tower and its crown jewel Maju Expressway.
In a joint statement, they said: “Both the EPF and UEM Group have received a non-binding letter of intent (LoI) from Evercore Asia Ltd representing Maju Holdings, stating its intent to fully acquire our stakes in PLUS.
“We are unable to comment further, as we are in the midst of reviewing the LoI and until we conclude the review process, our current stand remains that we have no intention of selling our respective stakes.”
The EPF pointed out that its stake in PLUS was one of the fund’s core investments that “fits well into the retirement fund’s risk profile benefitting our 14 million members”.
Notably, the EPF has been on a shopping spree for highway assets in Malaysia and has allocated 3% of its RM747bil assets for infrustructure-related investments.
Aside from PLUS, the EPF has stakes in three other highways in the country, including the Cheras-Kajang Highway, where the fund has a 48% stake, as well as the New North Klang Straits Bypass Expressway with a 37.5% stake. The most recent acquisition is a 40% stake in the Duta–Ulu Klang Expressway phase 1 and 2 for a total of RM1.13bil from Ekovest Bhd .
Meanwhile, for UEM Group, the company said PLUS was one of its longstanding core businesses.
PLUS was taken over by the EPF and UEM Group back in 2011 in a deal worth RM23bil.
According to documents obtained from the Companies Commision of Malaysia, for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2016, PLUS’ profit after tax surged to RM308.99mil from RM23.12mil a year earlier.
PLUS said it paid a total of RM720mil and RM815mil in net dividends to its shareholders in 2016 and 2015, respectively.
PLUS is the largest highway concessionaire in Malaysia, operating eight expressways under five concessions, including the NSE, the New Klang Valley Expressway, Federal Highway Route 2, the Seremban-Port Dickson Highway, the North-South Expressway Central Link, the Malaysia Singapore Second Link, Lebuhraya Butterworth-Kulim and Penang Bridge.
All five concessions are said to end in December 2038.