Khazanah’s proposed divestment in GLCs won’t hurt Bumi agenda, say analysts

Khazanah Nasional Berhad is proposing to divest its stakes in GLCs, including shutting down some of its overseas offices.

PETALING JAYA: Analysts have voiced their support for the proposed divestment by national sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad in government-linked companies (GLCs).

They allayed fears the move will hurt the Bumiputera agenda.

The analysts were commenting on reports that Khazanah was planning a major divestment of its stakes in GLCs, including shutting some of its overseas offices.

Universiti Malaya professor Nazari Ismail said the divestment was acceptable if it was conducted in a transparent manner.

“I don’t see anything wrong with the move. It will also help raise funds for the government and reduce its debt burden.

“I think the interest of the nation is above the Bumiputera agenda. If the government is in trouble financially, everyone will suffer, including the Bumiputeras,” Nazari told FMT.

Inter-Pacific Securities head of research Pong Teng Siew agreed that the Bumiputera agenda would not advance if the share prices of the GLCs remained stagnant, as they had been in the past two years.

“The divestment would be what the market needs as foreign fund managers are seeking to buy shares in GLCs.

“Currently, the free float of these companies remains limited and this is a dampener to the stock market,” Pong said.

Khazanah, which manages around RM163 billion in funds, has strategic stakes in a number of GLCs, including CIMB, Tenaga Nasional and Axiata.

It was reported that plans are in the pipeline for a major divestment of its stakes in GLCs, which involves the shutting down of some of its overseas offices.

Among the reasons for the proposed divestment is the government’s coffers are not that strong and it has to look for alternative revenue sources.

Malaysia is currently saddled with a national debt of around RM1 trillion.

The most recent divestment by Khazanah was in a healthcare company IHH Berhad, which runs the Pantai chain of hospitals, for RM8.42 billion. It divested a 16% stake in the company.