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MOT supports MAHB privatisation, to enable expedient strategic decisions — Loke

Publish date: Fri, 17 May 2024, 03:05 PM

PUTRAJAYA (May 17): The Ministry of Transport (MOT) fully supports Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employee Provident Fund’s (EPF) move to privatise Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (KL:AIRPORT), or MAHB, as it will enable the implementation of strategic decisions more expediently, according to its minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

“For MOT, we are in line with the actions and decisions of Khazanah, as it is the government’s strategic asset manager,” Loke told a press conference on Friday. “We support the move by Khazanah,” he added.

Earlier this week, MAHB announced that joint offerors comprising Khazanah, the EPF, New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia) - via a consortium dubbed Gateway Development Alliance Sdn Bhd (GDA) - intend to take the airport operator private. 

This comes in the form of a conditional voluntary offer to acquire all remaining 1.12 billion shares in MAHB not already held by them at RM11 per share cash - valuing the remaining 58.72% stake at RM12.32 billion.

Upon completion of the offer, Khazanah will see its stake in MAHB rise to 40%, from 33.2%, while EPF’s share will climb from 7.9% to 30%. The remaining balance of 30% will be held by Adia and GIP.  

The joint offerors said the takeover of MAHB is aimed at upgrading and modernising the company’s operations, enhancing passenger services, improving airline connectivity and stimulating traffic growth.

Loke said Khazanah and the EPF, having majority control over MAHB, will enable the airport operator to implement strategic decisions more expeditiously, versus in its current state as a public-listed company. 

“Currently, with MAHB being a public-listed company, whatever decision the government wants it to implement needs to be endorsed at the board level, which sometimes has different views because it has independent directors and so on,” the minister said. 

“After the consortium takes MAHB private, Khazanah and the EPF will control a majority stake. When it is a private entity under Khazanah and the EPF, being strategic asset managers for the government and the country, I believe that various strategic decisions can be implemented more quickly,” he noted, adding that this will help MAHB head in its desired direction faster.

At the time of writing on Friday, MAHB shares were up 14 sen or 1.39% at RM10.18, valuing the airport operator at RM16.99 billion. 

Meanwhile, Loke dismissed allegations made by Machang Member of Parliament Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal that Khazanah and EPF are selling its stake in MAHB to foreign entities. 

Loke reiterated that Khazanah and the EPF will increase their stakes under the announced privatisation exercise. 

“He made an assumption, and until today, he is talking about us selling [MAHB] and is misleading the public. He does not understand the exercise,” Loke said.

Back in March this year, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal claimed in Dewan Rakyat that Khazanah and the EPF were forming a consortium to privatise MAHB and sell a stake in the airport operator to GIP, wholly owned by Blackrock. Loke dismissed the allegation.

On Facebook on Thursday (May 16), Wan Ahmad Fayhsal again claimed that shares in MAHB were being sold to Blackrock, which he claimed is “pro-Zionist”.

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