KUALA LUMPUR: It’s back to drawing board for Tan Sri Halim Saad after the Government turned down his second attempt to take over highway operator PLUS Malaysia Bhd.
This is after the Government concluded that some of his assumptions contained in his latest proposal were “inaccurate.’’
Halim, through his private vehicle Idaman Saga Sdn Bhd had in March, submitted a seven-page concept paper to the Government that outlined his plan to keep toll rates on the country’s longest highway unchanged until 2038.
He also pledged to forgo future compensation from the Government and had come out with a scheme that will allow urban commuters to benefit from discounted rates.
In a written reply to the Parliament yesterday, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said the Government had decided not to consider the proposal.
“The Government has reviewed the proposal and found that the assumption and the information provided by the company are inaccurate. The Government has decided not to consider the proposal submitted by the company,” Wahid said.
PLUS is the operator of the 772km North-South Expressway (NSE), as well as seven other highways in the country, including the Penang Bridge. The company was taken private by a UEM Group Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) joint venture in a RM23bil deal that was completed in 2012. UEM Group is a unit of Khazanah Nasional Bhd.
Halim, the former executive chairman of Renong Bhd, made his first attempt to acquire PLUS and other highway concessionaires nationwide for RM50bil in 2011.
His offer was rejected by PLUS.
In March this year, Halim went straight to the Government with a fresh proposal to acquire PLUS from its current owners. Halim had also requested that Idaman Saga to be given the opportunity to carry out a due diligence on PLUS.
His promise to forgo future compensation from the Government over the remaining concession period that will end in 2038, according to his own estimates, will result in future savings of RM64bil for the Government.
To sweeten the deal, Idaman Saga had planned to offer discount cards to urban commuters to help them lower their monthly toll payments. It will result in savings of some RM18bil until the end of the concession period, according to the concept paper.
Calling it the rakyat-friendly tolled road scheme, Idaman proposed a 50% waiver on those having to incur monthly expenses of between RM100 and RM200 subject to a limit on the mileage.