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Construction — Changes ringing at SPNB?

Construction sector
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The Edge Financial Daily reported there could be changes at Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB). Urban Public Transport National Key Results Area director Ahmad Suhaili Idrus said during a Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) update that the newcomer could be sought to oversee the Klang Valley mass rail transit (MRT) project. This may be a precursor to a change in the role SPNB in the project.

While the nature of the change was not disclosed, an announcement could be made by month's end. The status quo on both SPNB's and the MMC-Gamuda JV's role as the asset owner and project delivery partner of the MRT project would remain largely intact.

What may change is that the new appointee would likely play a more proactive role in the implementation of the project. Recent news reports said Marcus Karakashian — a director of the Singapore Land Transport Authority — would be roped in at the top to assist in the MRT project. Karakashian is believed to have extensive experience in MRT systems — having spent more than a decade in Singapore where he worked on the North East Line MRT as well as the Kallang Paya Lebar Expressway Road Tunnel. He was also construction manager of the Jubilee Line in London — in charge of the London Bridge and Southwark stations and tunnels.

We wonder if this evolving development may cause uncertainty about the chain of command for the MRT project with one more party at the top. We are unsure how this development will impact the rollout of contract awards for the Sg Buloh-Kajang line, which reportedly could be worth about RM20 billion. Construction is expected to kick off in November.

Gamuda's potential involvement in the MRT project has largely been priced in, so we advise investors to find the next batch of proxies — especially on the non-tunnelling portion. IJM Corp Bhd and the UEM Group would stand a chance — with potential sub-contractor roles for MRCB and WCT.

The building materials sector may offer an alternative play on the MRT project. This huge project will likely accentuate demand for basic building materials. We like Ann Joo Resources Bhd (steel), Lion Industries Corp Bhd (steel), Lafarge Malayan Cement Bhd (cement) and Kimlun Corp Bhd (tunnel lining). — AmResearch, Aug 5

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