FGV shares jump as Malaysian tycoon seeks stake in major palm oil producer

Perspective Land intends to "inject" its plantation assets into FGV Holdings Bhd.
Perspective Land intends to "inject" its plantation assets into FGV Holdings Bhd.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysian tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary is seeking to combine his plantation assets with FGV Holdings in a potential merger aimed at securing a stake in one of Malaysia's biggest palm oil producers. FGV shares rallied.

Perspective Land, owned by Mr Syed Mokhtar, intends to "inject" its plantation assets into FGV, according to a filing by FGV late on Thursday (Oct 16). The closely-held company would potentially become the single largest shareholder in the latter if the transaction comes to fruition, it said.

A merger could bolster FGV's fortunes and challenge rival Sime Darby Plantations Bhd's position as the world's top palm oil producer. Formerly called Felda Global Ventures Holdings, it was once a high-flying stock when it listed in 2012 following a US$3.3 billion (S$4.49 billion) initial public offering.

FGV's shares climbed as much as 7.5 per cent to RM1.15 on Friday, the most since July 20. It traded as high as RM5.50 in July 2012. Some analysts said the proposal lacked details on how the merger would create value for shareholders.

"There are no solid numbers or materials issued," Ms Ivy Ng, head of research at CGS-CIMB Securities in Kuala Lumpur said Friday. She retained her hold recommendation on FGV and kept target price unchanged at 1.21 ringgit.

A merger would see FGV owning about 191,400ha of plantation assets, according to data from the companies' websites. Sime Darby has 238,760 in comparison.

FGV under a new management had been selling off non-performing assets, cutting costs and boosting productivity at palm operations.

Mr Syed Mokhtar's offer comes weeks after the US blocked imports of palm oil and related products from FGV on indications that the company uses forced labour. FGV on Thursday said the US authority found 11 indicators of forced labour in the company's practices, without providing details. North America accounts for about 5 per cent of FGV's sales.