Malaysian businessman Tan Sri Halim Saad has made an unsolicited bid to take over PLUS Malaysia Bhd, the largest toll concessionaire in the country that is currently owned by UEM Group Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
The new offer comes four years after his first attempt to take over the highway operator for RM50 billion (US$12 billion) was turned down. Halim is bidding through Idaman Saga Sdn Bhd, his investment vehicle.
Halim was the executive chairman of Renong, the company that controlled UEM Group, which controls PLUS. He was relieved of his positions in Renong and the UEM group in 2001 following a corporate takeover by Khazanah Nasional, the investment arm of the Malaysian Government.
In his latest proposal to the Government, Halim offered to maintain the toll rates at current levels. He also proposed to forgo future compensation from the Government for its main highway over the remaining concession period that will end in 2038.
To sweeten the deal, Halim is also offering discount cards to urban commuters to help them lower their monthly toll payments.
It is speculated that Halim has roped a major private equity firm to present the bid, however, it has not been disclosed.
Sources said the bid takeover was on the agenda discussed by the high-powered Economic Council last week.
Halim committed to submit a final bid once it has completed a due diligence on PLUS.
PLUS, the operator of the 772km North-South Expressway (NSE), as well as seven other highways in the country, including the Penang Bridge, was taken private by a UEM-EPF joint venture in a RM23bil (US$7 billion) deal that was completed in 2012.