Masers confident it can get sovereign guarantee


By LIZ LEE

KUALA LUMPUR: Masers Energy Malaysia, the company spearheading the US$30bil (RM91bil) National Smart Grid Nation project, is confident it will secure a sovereign guarantee for its project commencing in Malacca.

The energy company, which has submitted a request to the Government, said “there has been no objection so far”.

“If we're backed by a sovereign guarantee, we would be able to attract more local and foreign institutional investors for the project,” president and chief executive Datuk Seri Suhaimi Abdul Rahman said after signing a master agreement with Silver Spring Networks Inc.

He said there were also some local and international banking institutions interested in providing financial assistance via loans or equity, revealing Standard Chartered Singapore as one of those banks.

The entire project, which aims to make Malaysia a smart grid nation by 2020 and eventually carbon-free, would commence in Malacca before being rolled out across the country.

Suhaimi said the project would be funded with foreign direct investments (FDIs) and private finance initiatives through public-private partnerships.

Earlier this month, Masers secured an initial equity investment of US$2bil (about RM6bil) from joint-venture partner C&M Global South Korea, of which US$1bil will be disbursed by this June. C&M Global will lead the development of the Green Special Economic Zone in Malacca, which will include an international airport and a bridge linking Malacca and Dumai, Sumatra. The zone has been declared tax-exempt for 10 years.

The project has the endorsement of the Government, announced earlier this month, and Masers is negotiating with its partners the terms to implement three phases (1A, 1B and 2) before the end of the year and present the master plan to the Government in the next three months.

Silver Spring Networks, Masers' second partner, will be the co-ordination partner providing technical expertise for all smart infrastructure aspects of the Masers Energy Smart Grid City Melaka and Green Special Economic Zone Melaka projects.

The partnership will enable Masers to implement smart grid technology for eight million homes before 2020, beginning with 20,000 smart grid connections in Malacca.

Taking the United States and Europe as examples, Suhaimi said smart grid structures could accelerate the country's economic growth by 10 times. The development of Malacca was estimated to contribute US$96bil (RM290bil) to the economy.

Masers is also looking into a joint venture with Tenaga Nasional Bhd to invest US$10bil (RM30.3bil) into the Smart Grid City. It was also proposing to form a national special-purpose vehicle to develop a structural mechanism plan and a 50-year concession that will be carried out by private finance initiatives.

Masers was founded in 2003 by Suhaimi, who is currently the sole owner of the company.

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