MAHB chief says not aware of stake acquisition talks

SEPANG: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin says he is not aware of purported talks between Khazanah Nasional and UK’s Gatwick Airport for the latter to acquire a stake in the airport operator.

He said he had only read the report on the matter in the Edge Weekly yesterday.

“I have no idea. I had never heard of it,” he told reporters after attending a ceremony today to welcome AirArabia’s inaugural flight to KLIA.

AirArabia is the largest low-cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa.

MAHB group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin.

Raja Azmi was asked to comment on reports that discussions had begun for Gatwick to take up a stake in MAHB, with Khazanah retaining 10 to 20% of it.

The Edge Weekly reported that while Khazanah would not completely divest MAHB and Malaysia Airlines Bhd, sources had said that the fund is looking at strategic tie-ups through which it can pare its stake in these companies to partners who can manage them and increase their profitability and value.

Gatwick has been managed by Vinci Airports and Global Infrastructure Partners since 2009. Vinci Airports recently acquired 50.01% of the airport operator while Global Infrastructure Partners took up the remaining 49.99%.

Vinci Airports manages the development and operations of 46 airports in the US, the UK, Japan, France, Sweden, Portugal, Serbia, Brazil, Chile, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, among others.

The financial weekly reported that after hitting a 52-week low of RM6.60 on April 11, MAHB’s share price gained 28.59% to close at RM8.50 on June 26, giving the company a market capitalisation of RM14.1 billion.

Khazanah’s 33.21% stake in MAHB had a market value of RM4.83 billion as of June 26. At a 20% premium, the block of shares is worth RM5.8 billion.

In its first three months of the 2019 financial year, MAHB registered a net profit of RM149.58 million on revenue of RM1.25 billion.