Finance minister Lim Guan Eng says that the cabinet decision on the proposed takeover of PLUS as well as four highways operated by Gamuda will likely be made by next week. He said that the government must decide on the matter quickly to avoid paying further compensation to the concessionaires over frozen toll hikes.

As reported by the New Straits Times and The Sun, Lim said the decision would have to benefit all parties, including the rakyat. “Any decision on the highways must ensure a ‘triple-win’ – for the government, the company’s owners and the public,” he said.

He added that the ministry, works ministry and economics affairs ministry, along with Khazanah and EPF, had put forward a proposal to the cabinet to ensure Khazanah and EPF get value from any takeover. “We feel we have to support our national trust and sovereign funds also because it involves contributions of millions of Malaysian workers,” he said.

Highways operated by PLUS, which is owned by Khazanah (51%) and the EPF (49%), are the North-South Expressway (NSE), Second Link Expressway, Penang Bridge, North-South Expressway Central Link, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway and Seremban-Port Dickson Highway.

Lim added that motorists stand to enjoy up to 18% discount in toll rates on the NSE if the government agrees to the takeover of PLUS, reiterating that which was announced in Budget 2020. The government had then said that companies wishing to acquire PLUS must fulfil two conditions before they can proceed, the first being to fulfil the minimum 18% average toll reduction, and the second, to make sure that it is fiscally positive.

There has been no shortage of bidders for PLUS, despite Khazanah having previously stated that it had no intention of selling the business. The government has received four offers for the takeover of PLUS from Widad Group, Maju Holdings, RRJ Capital and Tan Sri Halim Saad’s vehicle Karongsa Private Capital, which is reportedly leading the race to acquire PLUS.