The acquisition of 40 per cent of the DUKE highway concessionaire by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has come under fire by an opposition lawmaker for the premium amount paid for the purchase.
PKR’s Director of Strategy Sim Tze Tzin said the price tag of RM1.13 bilion paid by EPF to Ekovest Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Nuzen Corp Sdn Bhd, is more than three times what the equal amount of shares would have been worth just two years ago.
“When Ekovest purchased a 30 per cent stake in DUKE highway from Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) in 2014, they only paid RM228 million, which translated the value of DUKE highway as RM760 million at the time.
“That would translate to RM304 million for a 40 per cent stake. So, it is startling to learn EPF is paying RM1.13 billion for 40 per cent now,” Sim said in a statement today, demanding an explanation from EPF on the purchase.
Sim was referring to a report that Ekovest had filed with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, that it had agreed, through Nuzen Corp to sell the stake in concessionaire Konsortium Lebuhraya Utara-Timur (KL) Sdn Bhd (Kesturi) to the EPF.
The Bayan Baru MP also questioned if Haris Onn Hussein, the brother of Umno Vice-President Hishammuddin Hussein, being a major shareholder in Ekovest, had anything to do with the premium price paid for the stake in the DUKE concessionaire.
“It is worth to note that Haris Onn Hussein is a substantial shareholder of Ekovest with about a 15 per cent stake in the company. EPF must explain whether there is any political pressure or political directive connected to the deal,” Sim said.
The main bone of contention for Sim was the transaction by EPF coming just two years after MRCB, in which the provident fund has a 37 per cent stake, had sold its 30 per cent stake in Kesturi to Ekovest for only RM228 million.
“If the EPF appreciates the value of DUKE highway so much so that it is willing to pay Ekovest RM1.13 billion of a 40 per cent stake, why did its company MRCB divest the 30 per cent stake in DUKE highway for a mere RM228 million two years ago?
“I am worried that the pricey acquisition by EPF could be another episode of the pricey acquisition of power assets by 1MDB, which the nation has to bear the brunt of,” Sim said.
FMT Reporters Online