Widad Business Group offers to buy PLUS Expressways concessionaires for up to RM3b

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 10): Integrated facility management and construction outfit Widad Business Group (WBG) has offered to buy the PLUS Expressways Bhd's concessionaires by taking over 51% of Khazanah Nasional Bhd's shares for RM1.5 billion cash, or 100% of Khazanah and Employees' Provident Fund's (EPF) shares for RM3 billion in cash.

In a statement today, WBG said the takeover proposal has been submitted to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well as to the Ministry of Works, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Oct 9.

It said the highways that are involved in the concessionaires of PLUS Expressways are: PLUS Highway, Second Link Expressway (Linkedua), Penang Bridge, North South Expressway Central Link (Elite), Butterworth Kulim Expressway (KLBK) and Seremban-Port Dickson Highway (SPDH).

WBG has offered two options in its offer — the first being a 51% takeover of Khazanah's shares for RM1.5 billion in cash, where the remaining 49% will be public shareholding owned by EPF; and the second being a full takeover of Khazanah and EPF's shares for RM3 billion in cash.

It said both offers included the waiver of toll compensation worth RM2.7 billion incurred by the government for the abolishment of tolls in Plaza Batu Tiga and Bukit Kayu Hitam.

The group said the options also took into account the extension of the highway concessionaires for another 20 years after the conclusion of the concession period.

WBG said it has identified its global strategic partner/investor to fund the proposed acquisition, coupled with its internal funds and fundraising plan via sukuk MTN and equity issuance.

It said the highway will be run on an entrepreneur basis to optimise efficiency while preserving road safety and quality for the public at large.

WBG group executive chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ikmal Opat Abdullah said in the event WBG successfully takes over the concessionaires, it will reduce the current toll charges by 25% to 40%.

He said this is in line with the government's manifesto to reduce the burden of the rakyat.

"We also intend to help the government by waiving the outstanding compensation of the government to PLUS worth RM338.5 million as of Dec 31, 2018," he said.

Muhammad Ikmal added that WBG has also proposed to give a 50% discount for toll fares during festive seasons such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali for as long as it deems reasonable.

"We will also work to refurbish the involved highway rest stops and implement new artificial intelligence technology to improve highway and traffic management with the additional promise of not making any retrenchment of staff for at least five years after the takeover," he said.

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