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Govt finding best solution to settle PLUS' debt: Dr Mahathir

BANGKOK (Nov 4): The government is finding the best solution to resolve the financial problems plaguing PLUS Malaysia Bhd, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the best choice currently is for the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which is the major shareholder in PLUS, to manage the toll concession company to settle its debt.

“We will see which is the best possible. If Khazanah manages (PLUS), OK, it can resolve the debt issue,” he said in a press conference with the Malaysian media in conjunction with the 35th ASEAN Summit here, today.

Recently, it was reported that Khazanah managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said the government wealth fund was not interested to sell its stake in PLUS which is the biggest toll concession company in the country.

Khazanah owns a 51% interest in PLUS while the remaining 49% is held by the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) following the takeover in 2011 with a transaction value of RM32 billion.

However, the Prime Minister said the government was also prepared to let go of PLUS if there is a party that is willing to pay a high price to acquire it and assumed its debt.

“If there are offers by other people to take over the debts of up to RM30 billion, then it’s a good thing. For the government, we (will) talk with Khazanah,” he said.

Last week, integrated facility management and construction conglomerate, Widad Business Group Sdn Bhd, has upped its offer for PLUS with a new proposal to acquire 100% equity in the company to RM5.3 billion from RM3 billion earlier.

This offer included a compensation waiver of RM3.04 billion and debt assumption of RM30 billion, bringing the enterprise value of the offer to RM38.34 billion.

This is reportedly the highest bid from the private sector to date.

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