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Tackling Tenaga

Malaysia's local electricity supplier is just one of the government-linked companies on Khazanah's books. And, like most of them, it has plenty of problems to deal with.

THE NEW PRESIDENT and CEO of Malaysia's electricity generating and supply monopoly Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has a lot on his plate.

"It's very exciting," says Dato' Che Khalib Mohamad Noh enthusiastically. "I wouldn't want to go to a company that's easy and boring. TNB has a lot of challenges. It keeps me going!"

He is not exaggerating. Appointed in May 2004 as part of a shake-up of the sleepy power company by government holding company Khazanah, Che has as his first task an effort to get to grips with the high level of borrowings inherited from his predecessor. These stood at almost 220% of shareholders' funds at the end of 2004, although they were reduced to 186% in the second quarter of 2005.

"We don't have enough revenues to cover the capital expenditure, so the company has had to borrow to sustain its capex," says Che. "We've been telling the government that we need a tariff increase because this is not sustainable. We have to address this fundamental problem the company has."

Discussions with the government on increasing power rates are under way. So far, says Che, his entreaties are receiving a sympathetic ear.

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