NWS Holdings seeks SE Asia and Europe road assets

03 March 2020 - 12:00 am UTC

Hong Kong conglomerate NWS Holdings is seeking infrastructure and energy M&A opportunities in China, Southeast Asia and Europe, a senior official told Inframation. 

The environment-to-transport company, controlled by the city’s billionaire Cheng family, will look at toll roads, renewable power plants and data centres for potential purchases, said Executive Director Gilbert Ho.

While the COVID-19 virus outbreak and China’s toll-fee exemption policy have put the company’s mainland transport business under pressure in the short term, NWS sees potential M&A opportunities of distressed assets, Ben Wong, NWS’s director of corporate development and investment, said in an online briefing. 

China’s Ministry of Transport said last month that toll fees on all its roads will be exempted until the end of the virus prevention and control measures. The policy, aimed at helping the recovery of economic activity and transport of goods, will apply to all tolled highways, including bridges and tunnels. 

NWS, which has a market capitalisation of HKD 37bn (USD 4.7bn), had more than HKD 12.5bn cash at hand as on 31 December last year, with an unutilised credit line of more than HKD 10bn, the company said. 

NWS anticipates potential government subsidies, tax reduction or extension of the toll road concession period by the Chinese government, which could help alleviate pressures on the company’s mainland highway business.

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