Felda Global to pay $476m for Malaysian oil palm estates

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysian plantation firm Felda Global Ventures Holdings has offered to pay 1.21 billion ringgit (S$476 million)for an unlisted planter, as it seeks to boost land assets and palm oil output after its listing last year.

Felda Global told the stock exchange on Thursday it will take over 8.65 million Pontian United Plantations shares at 140 ringgit per share. Pontian owns about 40,000 acres of oil palm estates in Malaysia's top growing state of Sabah on Borneo island.

The purchases would be funded by bank borrowings and proceeds from its initial public offering (IPO). Felda Global had a US$3.1 billion (S$3.9 billion) listing last year, at the time the largest in the world after Facebook's IPO, and had said it planned to use the funds to expand in South-east Asia and Africa.

Felda Global said the offer price for Pontian represents a price-earnings multiple of about 21.8 times based on the average earnings per share of Pontian of 6.43 ringgit for 2011 and 2012.

The high price-tag for Pontian signals soaring costs in Malaysia, the world's second- largest producer of palm oil, as land for plantations grow more scarce.