Felda Global Ventures to dispose of more non-core assets

KUALA LUMPUR: Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) plans to divest two or three non-core and non-performing assets or investments this year, which are valued at “a few hundred million ringgit” and add income to FGV this year.

Group president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad (pix) said one or two deals have been concluded and it needs to sign the sale and purchase agreements.

“We have minority shares in these companies, we just want to get some cash from the investments,” he told a press conference after announcing its financial results for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2017 (Q417) here last Friday.

Zakaria said FGV is in the preliminary stage of looking at 20,000ha of greenfield landbank in Malaysia, Indonesia and Africa.

“We will go through a due diligence of looking at every angle, especially RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil),” said Zakaria, explaining that RSPO is a prerequisite for its plantation acquisition.

He said the European Union’s (EU) potential ban of palm oil from the EU biofuel programme will not impact FGV, as its business in the eurozone is only 2%. Even without the EU’s ban, he said, FGV is unable to sell or export much because of price and hence concentrates only on the local market.

“I worry about the perception of other consumer countries because they think that EU will ban palm oil in totality, whereas they only ban (palm oil in) biodiesel usage, which is small for Malaysia,” Zakaria said.

He maintained the view that crude palm oil (CPO) prices will hover at RM2,400-RM2,600 per tonne in 2018, weaker than the average of RM2,792 per tonne in 2017, on the expectation of good crops and a strengthening ringgit against the US dollar.

Meanwhile, Zakaria said FGV is undertaking an internal investigation into the company’s acquisition of Asian Plantations Ltd (APL), partly due to its steep price, and may take the matter to court should there be a case, without the involvement of the government.
FGV purchased APL for £120 million (equivalent to RM628 million) in 2014.

On another note, FGV and subsidiary MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd still welcome former MSM group president/ CEO Datuk Mohamad Amri Sahari @ Khuzari, who left the group last month claiming “constructive dismissal” 20 months into the job.

“I’m persuading him as a friend (to return to MSM) but it’s up to him. The window is still open,” Zakaria said.

FGV’s Q417 net profit fell 31.9% to RM76.57 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2017, from RM112.46 million in the previous corresponding quarter, mainly due to the land lease agreement adjustments. Revenue for the quarter decreased 17% to RM4.28 billion, compared with RM5.15 billion in the same period in 2016.

For the full year, FGV’s net profit jumped more than fourfold to RM143.7 million, from RM31.5 million a year ago, attributed to a strong performance from plantation and logistics and others (LO) sectors. Revenue dropped marginally by 1.5% to RM16.97 billion, against RM17.2 billion previously.

FGV is confident the momentum will continue this year supported by sustainable growth in LO sector and improvement by sugar sector.

On Bursa Malaysia last Friday, FGV fell 5 sen or 2.4% to RM1.99 with 13.5 million shares traded.