As far back as April 2007, there have been reports on the consolidation of the fragmented water sector in Selangor - saying it was likely to happen soon.
But now almost six years down the road, the exercise is still on-going, much to everyone’s chagrin.
Worse still, it seems likely to go, and can only be concluded depending on the outcome of the upcoming general election.
The offer of RM9.65 billion - the fourth made by the state - for the three water treatment plants and distributor in Selangor, is unlikely to be successful.
It is likely to be rejected by Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd, and its controlling shareholder Rozali Ismail, and the federal government which has a golden share in Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas).
Sybas has the mandate to distribute treated water in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and the federal capital Putrajaya.
Think about it, with the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) and opposition Pakatan Rakyat neck to neck in Selangor, Rozali (left) - who is closely linked to BN - is likely to wait and see if BN is victorious.
Puncak has two concessions, one for water treatment under wholly-owned Puncak Niaga (M) Sdn Bhd (PNSB) and the other via 70 percent unit Syabas.
Syabas was supposed to get a tariff hike of 37 percent in 2009, and another of 25 percent in 2012, which the Pakatan Rakyat government has opposed, and thus Syabas is in limbo. The federal government has been giving Syabas soft loans.
Syabas is being sued by the water treatment players and Syabas itself has commenced legal action against the state, seeking amounts lost had the proposed tariff hikes kicked in.
Now, if BN came into power in Selangor, these tariff hikes would likely kick in and substantially increase Puncak’s valuations. With the federal government’s golden share in Syabas, Rozali has to get the federal government’s blessing before he can accept an offer.
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