EPF may divest PLUS if right offer comes

EPF Tunku Alizakri Alias

KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will definitely consider divesting its stake in PLUS Malaysia Bhd if there is a good offer, says its chief executive officer Tunku Alizakri Alias.

He said if there is any sensible takeover offer which would benefit its members in terms of returns and dividends, the fund will definitely study and consider the offer.

“At this juncture, PLUS is an asset that is very positive, it gives really strong returns and it is a well-run organisation.

“In terms of services, it operates over 1,200 km of highways and it gives really good service. So from the EPF perspective, we are very happy with the returns from PLUS and it is also a strong asset, ” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Khazanah Megatrends Forum 2019 here yesterday.

On Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comment that the government will study offers to take over PLUS, he said that the comment could have been made on behalf of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, a government wealth sovereign fund that is another shareholder of the toll concessionaire.

Earlier yesterday, the prime minister said that the government will study offers to take over PLUS Highway Bhd, including bids from abroad. He was commenting on the offer by Hong Kong and Singapore-based equity firm RRJ Capital to take over PLUS Highway reportedly for RM3bil.

“Any bidding by firms (to take over PLUS) will be studied by the government. We will entertain the offer if it suits our needs, ” he said.

Khazanah owns 51% of PLUS, while the EPF owns 49%, following a takeover exercise in 2011 in a transaction valued at RM32bil.

Asked on dividends for the shareholders, Alizakri said that the fund cannot give the direction although he acknowledged the challenging economic performance moving forward both globally and domestically.

“All the data points to a challenging environment, (therefore) on our side we will ensure our assets are managed well, but we will make sure if we have to buy we will buy the best long-term asset, and if we must sell we will also make sure we get the best deal for any divestment, ” he explained.

He said the fund is always on the lookout to buy and sell assets to give dividends to the shareholders.

“The question is, do we have a governance process that is sustainable? (We have to ensure) due diligence is properly done, so our members can rest assured that any divestment that we do is to benefit our members, ” he added.

It was reported that the EPF secured dividends of RM1.56bil from 10 companies that have paid the most dividends in its portfolio in the first half of 2019.

The sum received was 5.4% higher than the RM1.49bil a year ago.The companies include Digi.com Bhd, Axiata Group Bhd, Public Bank Bhd and Hong Leong Bank Bhd. — Bernama

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