Syed Mokhtar eyes UEM, RRI and police land

By The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — Tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary has written to Putrajaya seeking 1,200 hectares of land in Sungei Buloh and the police training centre in Jalan Semarak here apart from a RM15.6 billion bid to take over the UEM Group Berhad which runs the PLUS highways.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Syed Mokhtar’s MMC Berhad sent the UEM Group bid to the Ministry of Finance in August and it has come to the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his capacity as the Finance Minister. The UEM Group is owned by government sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

“The government’s position is that if Khazanah wants to sell, there is no objection,” a government source told The Malaysian Insider.

Syed Mokhtar is one of the richest men in the country.

“But the government will not force Khazanah to sell its stake in UEM to MMC,” he added.

The UEM bid is just one of the deals being pursued by the Kedah-born tycoon, who rose from a transport business start-up to control rice supplies in the country to running ports. The Malaysian Business magazine last year estimated that Syed Mokhtar is worth some US$1.8 billion (RM5.58 billion) with his shareholdings in several listed companies.

It is learnt that Syed Mokhtar has also written to the government to buy 1,200 hectares out of the 3,000 hectares of Rubber Research Institute (RRI) land in Sungei Buloh to be developed by the Najib administration under his Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

Apart from that, it is understood that the businessman is also asking to develop the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) in Jalan Semarak which also houses the Police Museum and its logistics centre. The site also houses a police golf course next to the leafy Gurney residential area which counts some embassies and tycoons as its residents.

“Putrajaya has yet to decide on the RRI land or Pulapol,” the government source said.

Before the offer for the historic police land, the government had recently indicated it will develop the massive Sungei Besi airport which is a strategic base for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Police Air Wing. The Sungei Besi development by the government-linked 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) is also under the ETP.

Najib has left it to Khazanah to ensure the disposal of strategic stakes is to its interests.

Since Najib took office as the country’s sixth prime minister in April 2009, he has earmarked government assets in Kuala Lumpur for redevelopment and has asked Khazanah to dispose of controlling shares in the nearly 70 companies in the state asset manager’s stable.

But Najib, who is Khazanah chairman, has left it to the asset manager’s managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar and his team to ensure the disposal of strategic stakes is to its interests.

Apart from MMC’s bid for UEM, Khazanah has also received a RM50 billion bid for toll road operator PLUS Expressways Berhad. It has yet to decide on any of the bids, sources said.