KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) possible equity restructuring will ultimately benefit the nation, especially if it supports continued upgrading and modernisation of the country’s airports as well as ancillary facilities and services, said an economist.

It was reported the airport operator is mulling privatisation following rumours about a stake sale to the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).

Bursa Malaysia Bhd has approved MAHB’s request for a trading suspension effective from 9am to 5pm on Wednesday pending a material announcement.

MAHB shares were last traded at RM10.40 per share.

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New York-headquartered GIP is a leading infrastructure investor that specialises in investing in owning and operating some of the largest and most complex assets across the energy, transport, digital infrastructure as well as the water and waste management sectors.

Professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng, the deputy president of the Malaysian Economic Association, said any enhancement to the company’s future growth will boost its competitiveness and profitability.

“As mentioned by Transport Minister Anthony Loke, corporate decisions regarding ownership by listed public companies are best left to the individual entities as long as such decisions do not negatively impact national interests. The shareholders are better placed to decide how their divestment decisions add to enterprise and shareholders’ value,” he told Bernama.

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Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) hold 33.2 per cent and 7.0 per cent of MAHB, respectively.

A news report indicated that a 30 per cent stake in MAHB would be sold to GIP, an infrastructure investment vehicle that invests in equities and selected debts.

Presently, MAHB manages 39 airports throughout Malaysia, including five international airports, 17 domestic airports and 17 STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing). Additionally, it owns and manages one international airport in Istanbul, Turkiye.

Asked about Malaysia’s strict action against Israel trade, Yeah reckons that as a global company, it is unlikely that GIP will not have any asset or activity that is linked, directly or indirectly, to Israel.

He said this is a dilemma the government will need to resolve, perhaps through a materiality test or proof of direct linkage between GIP and Israel.

Yeah said he was also unsure whether the government holds a golden share in national strategic assets, especially MAHB.

“But as a highly regulated sector, even without the golden share, the government can ensure the company operates in line with the prescribed policy and legal frameworks,” he said. — Bernama