Malaysia’s privatisation of airport operator with BlackRock entity faces a bumpy ride, but likely to go ahead

Observers say Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is unlikely to cave in to demands to remove an entity partner with ties to Israel from the deal. But larger questions loom on the economics and whether the move will give Kuala Lumpur International Airport a lift in international rankings.

(CNA) – Criticism and questions continue to dog Malaysia’s plan to privatise its national airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), but analysts say there’s unlikely to be any U-turning on the move.

“This train has left the station and the time to back out is no longer an option because a formal offer has been made (on the proposed privatisation),” said a Finance Ministry official involved in the proposed transaction.

The official added that the international reputation of two of Malaysia’s largest state-controlled funds driving the deal, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional and the Employees Provident Fund, were at stake.

The involvement of the world’s largest asset manager, New York-based BlackRock Inc, in the multi-billion-dollar privatisation of the airport operator has turned the proposed transaction into a hot political potato for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim because of the US company’s links to Israel.

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