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Thursday, 10 August 2017

(The Star) No intention to sell Plus, says EPF

KAJANG: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has no intention to sell its 49% stake in Plus Malaysia Bhd, as the country’s largest highway concessionaire is contributing substantial earnings to the fund, said EPF CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan.

“At this particular point of time, there is no particular reason why we want to think about disposing it,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after an agreement signing ceremony between EPF and International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ITC-ILO) for the setting up of a regional training centre on social protection.

“We are happy with Plus. It has been performing well as an investment. There has been big investment by us and Khazanah (Nasional Bhd) shareholders to expand the network, especially in the Klang Valley,” he said, when asked on the possibility of EPF selling its stake in Plus.

Shahril also reiterated that the EPF had not received any offer for the purchase of Plus although the said interested party had gone to the media and talk about it.

“There have been a number of media reports and I guess the party you mentioned (Maju Holdings) has gone to the press stating that they are interested but today, we have not received any offer or any kind of interest from anyone,” he added.

It was reported last month that Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamad, via his flagship company Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd, is looking to take over Plus from 51% shareholder UEM Group Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah.

In an interview with a financial weekly, Abu Sahid is said to have received “the blessing of the highest levels in the country”, and has already made overtures to meet Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, managing director of Khazanah, to discuss a possible acquisition of the 51% stake.

Abu Sahid also said he planned to buy out the EPF’s 49% stake in Plus.

Plus is the largest highway concessionaire in Malaysia, operating eight expressways under five concessions, including the North-South Expressway, New Klang Valley Expressway, Federal Highway Route 2, Seremban-Port Dickson Highway, North-South Expressway Central Link, Malaysian Singapore Second Link, Lebuhraya Butterworth-Kulim and Penang Bridge.

All five concessions were said to end in December 2038.

The assets and liabilities of Plus Expressways were taken over by the UEM Group Bhd and the EPF in 2011, in a RM23bil deal.

On separate matters, the EPF aimed to provide free financial planning services at all of its 70 branches by 2020.

Shahril said the service, which was recently introduced in Sabah and Sarawak, is available at 20 branches.

“We started our pilot project about two years ago, in the Klang Valley. It is part of the new services the EPF is rolling out,” he said, adding that response was encouraging, with 1,000 members using the service.