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Thursday, September 21, 2017

EPF: About 14.5m EPF contributors may be impacted by PLUS


KUALA LUMPUR: There is rising concern that some 14.5 million contributors to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) may lose out on a steady stream of dividend income if the pension fund sells its 49 per cent stake in highway operator, PLUS Malaysia Bhd.

These concerns seem to be gaining momentum amid news reports that entrepreneur Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamad is eyeing to take over PLUS Malaysia through his flagship Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Besides EPF's 49% equity in PLUS Malaysia, the majority 51 per cent shareholding is held by UEM Group Bhd, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Analystsy the proposal should be rejected as both the pension fund and the government's investment arm have enjoyed good returns from their acquisition of PLUS Malaysia since end-2011.

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They also said PLUS Malaysia represents a core business for Khazanah and a core investment for EPF and was undoubtedly an important income generator for both.

As such, it raises the inevitable question as to why the fund or Khazanah would want to sell the highway operator at all.

If the sale goes through, contributors feel that EPF would have lost its valuable income from toll collection and, as a result, will stop paying good dividends to contributors.

The other question being raised is why sell a national asset to a private party when it belongs to the people via its ownership through a government-linked company (UEM Group) and EPF.

The investment has been benefiting Malaysians including those from Sabah and Sarawak, hence PLUS Malaysia should continue to remain in EPF's portfolio as a long-term strategic investment, the analysts said.

And, when the dividends are paid to Khazanah, it flows back to the government which can then use it for infrastructure development.

*Taken from The Star Online

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