KUALA LUMPUR: Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) has put its merger and acquisition (M&A) plans on hold to focus on maximising internal assets and improving profits. Speaking to reporters at a briefing yesterday, group president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad said the group will focus on increasing yield and oil extraction rate (OER) by "sweating" its existing assets, reducing cost, continue with its replanting programme and improve efficiency by reducing complexity. "I believe we can get growth in our existing business that's why we want to focus on our existing business (palm operations). The growth will be through existing business, not through M&As for now. "We are still a global business, we are still selling outside of Malaysia but for M&As we just want to pause. We want to stop for a while, maybe for this year, then look at it again," he said. Zakaria said, however, negotiations on the acquisition of a stake in Indonesia's PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk are still ongoing but M&As are not a priority in his strategic direction for FGV. Zakaria said fresh fruit bunch (FFB) yields were affected by El Nino in the first quarter of this year but expects improvement in the second half of the year. The yield was at 17.7 tonnes per hectare last year. He said OER, which stood at 20.6% last year, is expected to remain the same or improve this year. "Crude palm oil (CPO) yields (industry-wide) are down by 17% this year but the price of CPO increased by about 20%. We'll average it out. The price will be choppy but is increasing to within RM2,600 to RM2,800 per tonne by August this year," he added. Zakaria said FGV's replanting programme is on track with its plan to replant some 15,000ha a year, with new planting materials that have better yield profiles and OER. In addition, it has 70,000ha of young and immature palm already planted and expected to deliver yields in two to three years' time. Zakaria said he will focus more on profit than revenue under the new strategic direction. However, he did not comment on whether it is still on track to meet its target of RM100 billion revenue by 2020, which was announced by his predecessor Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah back in 2014. Commenting on reducing complexities, he said FGV aims to reduce bureaucracy, improve administrative efficiency and streamline its internal businesses. Head of operations strategy Denys Collin Munang said FGV will rationalise its assets to reduce costs. "We have 71 mills in Malaysia, we want to look at rationalising some of that to reduce cost ... we are readjusting some of the investments we have made. If it is not making money, fix it or close it down," he said. However, Zakaria said there will be no retrenchments in its rationalisation programme and FGV will move staff affected the rationalisation of its mills to other business areas. He said FGV's plan to focus on its core business, maximise current assets and reduce complexity will help to improve its share price. The group's shares slipped 0.01% to close at RM1.39 yesterday, with some 1.9 million shares changing hands.