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Westports looking for Southeast Asia M&A targets

Westports looking for Southeast Asia M&A targets
Dominant Malaysian port operator Westports Holdings is confident that its fortunes lie in the Asean market and is looking for a suitable merger and acquisition (M&A) target, local reports quoted ceo Ruben Emir Gnanalingam as saying in an interview.

He added that he was keen on pursuing a deal but had yet to find a terminal in the region that could join the group, and noted that despite market rumours that the company is already in talks with external parties, nothing suitable has been found yet. “I can tell you that we are keen, but we want to pursue the right deal where pricing, valuation and prospects of the terminal are within our expectations.

“Southeast Asia is the strongest market for us, as the countries here are still bullish on the economic outlook. Asean potential is amazing in the next 20 to 30 years. This is where the growth will be,” he said.

This is especially pertinent for Westports, where intra-Asia trade lanes accounted for nearly half of its throughput last year, far above the Asia-Europe trade lane that contributed about 23% to its volume in 2014.

Gnanalingam reassured that Westports has the financial strength to undertake an M&A, with close to MYR1bn ($275m) remaining from its MYR2bn sukuk bond programme.Westports also has MYR445m in cash while borrowings stood at MYR1.15bn as at the end of last year. Its net debt to equity ratio was at 0.4 times at the end of 2014, an increase from 0.35 times the previous year.

Prior to its listing in the second half of 2013, Westports had reportedly expressed interest in exploring M&As in India, Indonesia and Myanmar.