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19 June 2010

Malaysia road builder expands abroad

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MTD Group, Malaysia's second largest toll road operator, is building new highways locally and abroad.

Countries in focus, however, remain where the group has already built a strong foundation and these include the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

President and Chief Executive Officer Datuk Azmil Khalid said the group would not be spreading its wings to other places because "we have to complete what we have first," he told Bernama news agency.

The group also would not want to put a strain on its balance sheet and nor does it have enough people to spare to go elsewhere, he told Bernama in Manila in conjunction with the ground breaking ceremony for a 50-km extension of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) recently by Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

MTD Capital Bhd has an 80 percent equity stake in the highway concessionaire, South Luzon Tollway Corporation.

In Malaysia, MTD also holds the concession for the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway and its extension, the East-Coast Expressway 1, the East-West Link Expressway and the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Expressway. Together, they contribute about 50 per- cent to group earnings.

MTD is also part of the Malaysian-led consortium that was awarded a 30-year highway concession in Andhra Pradesh, India.

Azmil said the group was now working on toll road projects in Indonesia and China and was in the final stages of negotiating for a similar venture in Sri Lanka.

In the highway concession business, he said, a longer highway would not necessarily mean better returns.

"You must go where the traffic is. Sometimes, in shorter distances the traffic is there. The 60km Kuala Lumpur-Karak is making more money than the East-Coast Expressway that spans 170km," he said.

He said the group ventured into the Philippines and Indonesia because they are the biggest two populated countries in this part of the world. So is India and China.


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