Sime Darby Plantation gets takeover interest in loss-making Liberia operations
KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Sime Darby Plantation Bhd says it has received takeover interest from a few parties in its loss-making operations in Liberia in West Africa.
Deputy managing director Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha said the planter has signed non-disclosure agreements with a few interested parties, adding that the Liberian operations’ annual loss was between RM40 million and RM50 million.
“By disposing of the operations, it would be able to remove the loss from its bottom line,” he said.
However, disposing of the operations is one of the few options currently being reviewed but not finalised, said Mohamad on the sidelines of Invest Malaysia 2019 here today.
The review will be presented to the board of directors in April and subsequently at the Annual General Meeting in May, he explained.
Besides disposing to a third party, he said Sime Darby Plantation can also hand over the operations back to the Liberia government as per the concession agreement.
Sime Darby Plantation’s operations in Liberia are managed by Sime Darby Plantation (Liberia) Inc.
It signed a 63-year concession agreement with the Government of Liberia to develop 220,000 hectares (ha.) of land in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Bong into oil palm and rubber plantations in 2009.
According to its website, 10,508 ha. have been planted in five estates, namely Matambo, Grand Cape Mount, Zodua, Bomi and Lofa estates. Out of the total planted area of 10,508 ha., 10,401 ha. are planted with oil palm and 107 ha. are planted with rubber.
Mohamad said the company was also working with several international aides and non-governmental organisations to develop the smallholders scheme, which would bring in some funding.
However, the exit should not have a major impact on the company or country, he said.
“We have to be mindful because we are one of the biggest employers in the country. There are only three big plantation companies there. So, whatever we do will have a major impact on the country. But we will look at our shareholders’ interest first and we will try to balance it (impact),” he added. — Bernama.