BlackRock not involved in MAHB deal, says GIP

Global Infrastructure Partners says BlackRock’s acquisition of the firm will only be completed in the third quarter of 2024.

(FMT) – New York City-based investment firm BlackRock is not involved in the move to privatise Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) said today.

GIP, which is set to own 30% of MAHB’s shares with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, said this despite BlackRock agreeing to acquire GIP in January.

According to Bernama, GIP head of transport Phil Iley said BlackRock’s acquisition of the company would only be completed in the third quarter of 2024.

“After the transaction closes, GIP’s existing leadership team will retain full control and responsibility for the strategic direction and operation of GIP and the companies in which we have invested,” he said.

Under the privatisation exercise through a consortium called the Gateway Development Alliance (GDA), Khazanah Nasional Bhd will hold a 40% stake in MAHB, followed by EPF with 30%.

Several quarters have urged Putrajaya to scrap the deal due to GIP’s ties with BlackRock, which has been accused of “profiteering from genocide” through its stakes in US defence firms that allegedly manufacture weapons used by Israel.

Investment, trade and industry minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz however said that BlackRock is a listed company that is not owned by Israelis, while Khazanah said that GIP, as its consortium partner, would not have a hand in the management of MAHB when the deal is finalised.

On Monday, Channel News Asia quoted a finance ministry official as saying the government could no longer renege on the privatisation plan as a formal offer had been made.

Iley, a GDA director, said MAHB was in an “excellent” position to regain its market standing and improve its network connections, adding that the latter had underperformed in recent years.

He said the airport operator would benefit from the privatisation exercise through higher investments to improve services, increase airline connectivity and upgrade infrastructure.

“GIP is confident that these initiatives will provide lasting economic benefits, not only for MAHB and its stakeholders, but also for Malaysia’s economy and its citizens.”

Iley also said the consortium might consider re-listing MAHB on Bursa Malaysia in the future if the privatisation exercise turns out to be a success.

He maintained that GIP was a long-term investor, typically investing in airports for at least more than 10 years, and was committed to “taking MAHB to the next level”.

He added that the company hoped to increase the number of flights in the Penang, Langkawi, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu airports.

Meanwhile, Iley said GIP expects to be a technical partner in the GDA consortium despite being a minority shareholder, vowing to offer MAHB “as much operational support and assistance as it needs”.

He also pointed out that it had acquired a stake in Florida-based aviation services firm Signature Aviation in 2021, which operates more than 200 private aviation facilities in 27 countries.

He said this made GIP the “largest fixed-base operator network in the world”.