The news that tycoon Syed Mokthar Al-Bukhary’s Seaport Terminal (Johor) Sdn Bhd has been allowed to take over Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) is disturbing.
The Transport Ministry disclosed the latest status of the privatisation in a written parliamentary reply to Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng.
Why is Al-Bukhary getting so many of the big infrastructure and other projects?
Let’s see what he has got so far. Free Malaysia Today reports:
Pua said that Syed Mokhtar’s empire is generally held under four listed entities.
“The largest of them is the 51.8%-owned MMC Corporation Bhd whose group alone has outstanding debt of RM24.2 billion. The key subsidiaries of MMC Corporation are Malakoff Corporation, Gas Malaysia, Aliran Ihsan Resources, Port of Tanjong Pelepas, Johor Port, Senai Airport Terminal Services, SMART Tunnel and the MMC-Gamuda joint ventures.”
“His second largest entity is the 55.9%-owned DRB-Hicom Bhd which has debt of RM5.7 billion, including the most recent RM3.0 billion debt raised to acquire Proton Bhd.”
Pua said other companies of the group are Edaran Otomobil Nasional, Modenas, Honda Malaysia, Bank Muamalat, Puspakom, Alam Flora, POS Malaysia, Defence Technologies and several property development companies.
“The third entity is 43.0%-owned Tradewinds (M) Bhd which has debt of RM3.48 billion. It owns Bernas which has a monopoly on rice purchase, import and distribution in Malaysia; Central Sugar Refinery and smaller stakes in Malaysian Sugar Manufacturing Bhd, which together monopolises the Malaysian sugar market; and Tradewinds Plantations.”
Pua said the fourth and final entity is the 71.5%-owned Tradewinds Corporation which has a debt of RM890 million. It runs several major hotel chains in Malaysia, including Crowne Plaza, Mutiara Kuala Lumpur, Hilton Kuching and Petaling Jaya and Hotel Istana.
“Despite the expansiveness of his empire, and the load of his debt holdings, the Prime Minister’s Department has just confirmed the privatisation of Penang Port to him. With no details yet available, the acquisition will certainly require him to raise possibly several billions of additional debt to fund the exercise.
“What’s more, it has been widely rumoured that Syed Moktar is also leading the race to acquire Port Klang [Northport Holdings] as well as KTM Bhd.”
Airport terminal services, ports, postal services, sugar, rice, MRT construction … What is the wisdom in vesting so many strategic assets and near monopolies under the control of one man – not to mention the huge debt levels involved?
Ever heard of not putting all your eggs in one basket? In this case, how is he going to manage two competing ports (PTP and Penang)?
Return Penang port and the ferries to the people of Penang.