Khazanah, EPF share views on PLUS

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 9):  Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the two shareholders of PLUS Malaysia Bhd, today shared their views on the proposed takeover of the biggest toll concessionaire company in Malaysia. 

Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan outlined three policy questions that need to be considered before disposing of its 51 per cent stake in PLUS.

He questioned whether it is better for it to be owned on behalf of the rakyat or owned by private entities who are profit-motivated and therefore try to squeeze every single ringgit of profit out of it.

Shahril Ridza also pointed out that there is always the question of whether one wants a short-term toll reduction in exchange for a longer toll concession.

"Any kind of toll reduction, if you have seen any proposal coming up, is matched basically by requiring a much longer toll extension: do you want to forsake the future for the short term today?

"That is almost like an existential question around the environment (such as) we are also concerned about the environment and the climate. How do you exchange short-term benefit against long-term protection?" he said.

Shahril Ridza was answering a question from the floor on whether both Khazanah and the EPF were keen to dispose of their stakes in PLUS at the Youth Economic Forum 2019 at a session titled "The Corporate Agenda: The Game-Changers: Revolutionising Malaysian Industries" here today. 

Shahril Ridza said government guarantees are needed in order for the proposed takeover to work.

"(This is) to ensure private entities benefit from the government guarantees versus basically the rakyat (as it) owns today. These are the three things that need to be thought about if you think about tolls and toll restructuring," he said.

Shahril Ridza recently reiterated that the government wealth fund was not interested in selling its stake in PLUS. 

Khazanah owns a 51 per cent stake in PLUS, while the remaining 49 per cent is held by the EPF following the takeover in 2011, with a transaction value of RM32 billion.

Meanwhile, EPF chief executive officer Tunku Alizakri Raja Muhammad Alias said the retirement fund would need to make sure that it is comfortable with another party should there be a sale of stakes in PLUS.

"At this point in time, Khazanah and the EPF are aligned because we serve the people of Malaysia.  (The sale) must make sense to EPF members, in terms of financial returns.

"If we were going to dispose of it now, will it actually make more sense for us to sell it now so we can give the dividends that you want, or should we hold on to it to ensure that we have sustainable returns?" he said.

Tunku Alizakri pointed out that returns and benefits should not always be about finance but also about social benefits, as the infrastructure under PLUS gives EPF members mobility solutions as it covers 1,200 km across Peninsular Malaysia. 

"The story has always been about the 51 per cent, they forget about the 49 per cent here, but do not forget that we also have a say in the decision," he added.

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