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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Highway to growth

ZAINUDIN: Firm looking at many countries

HIGHWAY operator Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas) will expand its business within Asia, its top chief says.

"We have looked into many countries, including China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"We are now studying three highways within one country," group chief executive Zainudin A. Kadir said in an interview.

While Zainudin declined to name the country, he said that Prolintas had done its traffic study and would decide by the year-end on the viability of the project.

"Since it is an infrastructure project overseas, we have to be extremely careful because the investment value is hefty. It could be a minimum of RM2 billion," he said.

Considering that the build-operate-transfer project is a long-term investment, Prolintas plans to be the major stakeholder, he added.

Zainudin said the company was also evaluating the business and political risks in that country as it would be bringing in its own contractors and suppliers to work on the project.

"While other Malaysian companies are present in this country, we aim to be the first highway operator there," he said.

On the domestic front, Prolintas will increase the highways under its business from three at present, which are the Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway, Guthrie Corridor Expressway and work-in-progress Lebuhraya Kemuning-Shah Alam.

"By year-end, we plan to own and operate at least four highways," Zainudin said, adding that Prolintas was in talks to buy one highway in Kuala Lumpur.

He emphasised that Prolintas would only buy highways that bring additional value to its shareholders.

The wholly-owned unit under Permodalan Nasional Bhd also submitted a proposal to the government last November to build an urban highway in the Klang Valley.

"We are waiting for the government to call us for further discussions on our proposal," Zainudin said.

On a Business Times story last year about its listing plans, Zainudin said the company aimed for a flotation in three to five years.

"We want to be a listed company one day because we can expand overseas more quickly due to the higher level of confidence placed in listed entities.

"But the final say comes from our shareholders," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Jeeva Arulampalam)


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