Renamed 'FGV' to distance group from Felda's woes

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly renamed FGV Holdings Bhd (formerly Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd) will rename all companies under the FGV group with an 'FGV' prefix in an effort to distance itself from controversies surrounding its 33% shareholder Felda Land Development Authority (Felda).

FGV chairman Datuk Wira Azhar Abdul Hamid said it will spend up to RM2 million in the remaining months this year for its rebranding exercise, including for signages. He said FGV is also looking for locations for its own head office.

"It's not just to enhance (business prospects), it's also an avoidance (of confusion) issue. When news comes out about FIC (Felda Investment Corp Sdn Bhd), our share price takes a hit. It's not just about the financials, but also about perception. When people talk about the hotel in London (FIC's purchase), they say FGV. But it's not ours," Azhar told a press conference after its AGM and EGM here today.

"Anything (hopefully positive) that happens to FGV will benefit Felda but anything that happens to Felda shouldn't impact FGV, because we're not the same entity. These are the corrective measures that we're taking. FGV is a pure commercial listed entity and we have to be fair to our shareholders to make sure we can bring in a strong brand and value," said Azhar.

Despite its initiatives to minimise confusion, he said it still wants to stay close to Felda because of its origin.

Meanwhile, Azhar said decisions by the government to raise the minimum wage will significantly impact FGV and the industry, as every RM100 increase will incur an extra RM33 million in production cost for FGV per year and a RM500 increase will translate to a RM165 million additional cost per year.

He said FGV is paying its workers RM1,300 in basic salary. In addition, it provides workers with other benefits like housing, insurance and levy.

As government-appointed directors in the board of FGV, alongside Datuk Zakaria Arshad and director Datuk Siti Zauyah Md Desa, Azhar explained that it will let the government decide if the appointees on the board should be maintained, but stressed that there is no political interference in FGV.

"In the past, there has not been much interference. The only issue was, the previous chairman created the confusion and dragged FGV into the political arena. Issues in the past have clouded and marginalised the returns and rewards that should go back to all stakeholders.

"Since September 2017 (Azhar's appointment as chairman), I have not had any instructions or interference from the government. The government wants to see FGV do well," he said.