AMSTERDAM International Airport operator Schiphol has confirmed its interest to acquire stakes in Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB). However, it declined to provide details relevant to the negotiations. Schiphol Group corporate communications manager Marianne de Bie said the company is in contact with MAHB on the equity acquisition. "We can confirm our interest in MAHB and that we are in contact with MAHB. During negotiations we will, however, not disclose any information about the content of the talks," she told Business Times in Kuala Lumpur.
It was reported that the Government, which owns more than 70 per cent of MAHB, is said to be in talks to sell a 30 per cent stake for RM2.50 per share to Schiphol. During MAHB's flotation on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in November 1999, 20 per cent of the offering - priced at RM2.50 a share - was allocated for placement to foreign institutional investors. The plan now is to broaden the shareholding spread of the company, with the Government reducing its interest to 52 per cent - with Khazanah Nasional Bhd holding 17 per cent and the Minister of Finance Inc 35 per cent.
In the news report, sources had said that one of the conditions under the proposed sale of the Government's stake in MAHB to the Netherlands-based Schiphol Group was that MAHB would eventually divest its non-core businesses. Top on the list of the non-core assets are Sepang International Circuit Sdn Bhd and the National Exhibition and Convention Centre project in Subang, Selangor.
Schiphol has a strong reputation in airport management and facilities for aircraft, cargo and passengers. The group posted a net profit of 316.8 million guilders (1 guilder = RM1.48) last year, up 13.1 per cent from 280.1 million guilders in 1999. Schiphol Airport was ranked fourth in Europe for passenger traffic and third for freight in 1999. Some 36 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of freight passed through the airport in that year. The Schiphol Group is 75.8 per cent owned by the Dutch Government, 21.8 per cent by the Municipality of Amsterdam and 2.4 per cent by the Municipality of Rotterdam.
The Dutch Government also owns 14.1 per cent of the KLM Royal Dutch airline's voting shares, which would make Schiphol's entry into MAHB extra meaningful given Malaysia Airlines' plan to sign up as a member of the Wings Alliance, possibly in the next two weeks. The alliance's members include KLM and Northwest Airlines of the US. On June 16 the Dutch airline also signed a new, exclusive two-year agreement as part of its efforts to strengthen ties with Malaysia Airlines. In addition, Malaysia Airlines had moved its European cargo operations from Frankfurt's Hahn airport to Schiphol, the cargo hub for KLM, early last year. The Dutch airport's strategic location makes it a natural gateway to western Europe.
....Wings to form within this month? Does anyone know more?