The takeover bid of highway operator PLUS Malaysia may fall into the hands of Tan Sri Halim Saad and his partner, Datuk Wong Gian Kui, after the pair upped their offer by more than 30%, according to a report by The Edge.

The publication quoted sources which state that Halim and Wong raised their initial offer of RM5.2 billion by over 30% (that’s at least RM1.56 billion) with hopes of securing one of the country’s biggest highway deals to date. “The government asked for a price and he (Halim) raised his earlier offer,” the source said.

Earlier in October, Halim and Wong offered to buy Khazanah Nasional’s 51% stake in PLUS for RM5.2 billion without any extension of its concessions, which is due to end in 2038. The offer also included a 25% discount on current toll rates. Finance minister Lim Guan Eng said that companies who wish to acquire PLUS must fulfil the minimum 18% average toll reduction that was announced in Budget 2020.

Widad Business Group is also one of the bidders, and it had revised its offer to RM5.3 billion cash for 100% stake in PLUS. Its initial offer was RM1.5 billion in cash for Khazanah’s stake (51%, controlled by subsidiary UEM Group), or RM3 billion cash for the whole thing. The proposition also included remittances and reduction of toll rates by 25% to 40%, but on the condition that the concession be extended.

Two other bidders, RRJ Capital (a Malaysian-led, Hong Kong-based private equity firm) and Maju Holdings are also in the running, with the former offering RM3 billion in cash to purchase PLUS outright, while Maju Holdings (the concessionaire for MEX Highway) came up with an enterprise value of RM34.9 billion, which includes debt outstanding to bond holders, as well as an offer to reduce toll rates by up to 36%. So far, there have been no new updates regarding the two companies and their offers.

PLUS owns the North-South Expressway (NSE), Second Link Expressway, Penang Bridge, North-South Expressway Central Link, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway and Seremban-Port Dickson Highway. The Malaysian government is also considering the possibility of taking over PLUS itself, though it is open to all proposals from the private sector.