Puncak Niaga discontinues RM14b suit against Selangor govt after six years

TheEdge Mon, Sep 25, 2023 03:06pm - 9 months View Original

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 25): Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd has discontinued its RM14 billion suit against the Selangor state government for what it had alleged was a forced takeover of the state’s water industry back in March 2017.  

The suit, first filed six years ago, followed Selangor’s long-delayed water restructuring exercise after state-owned Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd took over PNSB Water Sdn Bhd and a 70% stake in Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) for RM1.55 billion cash from Puncak Niaga.

At the time, Puncak Niaga sought the cost of difference between the RM1.55 billion final price tag and its claim of the two companies’ value of RM2.08-2.35 billion. It also sought loss of business opportunities amounting to RM13.496 billion, plus interest.

In a filing on Monday, Puncak Niaga said it has discontinued the claims at the Shah Alam High Court with no order as to costs and without liberty to file afresh.

“Hence, the Shah Alam High Court had struck off the case,” it said.

The discontinuation was made after “careful consideration” of the fact that the six-year claim has yet to proceed to trial in court, it said.

Recall that the suit was struck out by the Shah Alam High Court in February 2018, but the Court of Appeal reinstated the case in February 2021.  

Meanwhile, Puncak Niaga added that its decision was also “due to evolving change in the challenging business environments regulating Puncak Niaga” where its operations are entirely in Malaysia, it added.

 It is also seeking to avoid incurring more resources and costs to pursue the matter in court, it said.

Aside from the Selangor state government, Puncak Niaga had also named two former Selangor MBs (menteri besar) as defendants, namely the late Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, alleging them of abuse of power to cause the federal government to force the state's water industry takeover. 

Abdul Khalid was Selangor MB from March 2008 to September 2014, while Mohamed Azmin took over the role until June 2018. The sale and purchase agreement (SPA) for the Syabas and PNSB deals were inked in 2015, although talks for the takeover were initiated earlier during Abdul Khalid's tenure as MB.

When the case was reinstated by the Court of Appeal in 2021, Abdul Khalid was reinstated as a defendant along with the Selangor state government, while Mohamed Azmin was not.

Puncak Niaga’s water and wastewater segment had been loss-making building up to the disposal of Syabas and PNSB in 2017.  

After its full exit from the water industry by 2018, Puncak Niaga’s key operating segments are now in the plantation, facilities management, and environmental engineering and construction which focuses on sewerage treatment plant projects.  

Shares of Puncak Niaga have doubled in the last three months, rising from 21 sen as of end-June to 42 sen at noon market break Monday. The counter rose five sen or 13.51% in Monday’s morning session.

At 42 sen, the counter has a market capitalisation of RM188.7 million.



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