Apr 4, 2012

Felda keen on Myanmar

Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) is keen to explore opportunities in Myanmar to develop plantations and related downstream businesses.

FGVH president Datuk Sabri Ahmad said while the group was waiting for sanctions and embargoes on the once-isolated country to be lifted by Western countries, there was huge potential for Felda products in the country.

Felda products have been actively sold in Myanmar since late last year, with cooking oil constituting the bulk of sales.

Felda’s partner and distributor in Myanmar is Grand Wynn Ltd, which also sells Felda products such condensed milk, margarine and instant noodles.

“Myanmar food is generally oily. There is huge potential for our cooking oil there,” said Sabri in a recent interview.

Sabri was part of a delegation that accompanied Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during a bilateral meeting with Myanmar President U Thein Sein in Naypyitaw recently.

Sabri said Myanmar was a resource rich country with a population of about 60 million and high literacy rate.

The group is also keen on replicating its successful Malaysian model for rural development in Myanmar.

“Besides business opportunities, we aspire to share our knowledge and experience. We can help poor farmers to get out of poverty. Of course, this would be subject to the approval of the Myanmar government. We will conduct studies to make sure it is feasible and viable,” he said.

The Felda Land Development Authority (Felda) was a statutory body founded in 1956 to alleviate poverty among rural Malays via a land resettlement scheme.

FGVH is a commercial unit of Felda Global Group, and a highly-diversified entity focusing on palm oil, sugar, multicrop, logistics and supply chain as well as downstream operations.

It has more than 80 active companies in 12 countries.

The Felda Global Group produces about 3 million tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) annually, accounting for some 8% of the world’s CPO output.

The total land bank currently under Felda’s jurisdiction is 853,000 ha.

“We have received many offers from foreign countries to develop their plantation sector, which is a testament to our capability and confidence in the Felda brand.”

Sabri said Felda’s efforts in Myanmar could include providing technical training and planting assistance.

“We can help to develop their human capital and agriculture sector. For example, we can improve the yields and production for their oil palm plantations. We want to be their partners in development and business building.”

He added that Felda had plans to expand its oil palm land bank as the potential for expansion domestically is limited.
He noted that the southern region of Myanmar was suitable for oil palm plantations, while the central and northern regions were suitable for sugar cane.

“In the future, perhaps we can look at setting up palm oil mills.”

Felda is also looking at the potential for logistics and port management in Myanmar.

“We are examining the possibility of managing storage tank facilities for edible oils. At the port of Thilawa in Myanmar, there is about 6,000 tonnes of storage capacity. We have 870,000 tonnes of storage capacity in Pasir Gudang, Johor.”

Sabri added that another possibility was assisting Myanmar Muslims with hajj and umrah packages, via the Felda Travel agency.

“This is also part of our corporate social responsibility.”

Regarding the impending listing of Felda Global Ventures on Bursa Malaysia Main Market, Sabri said the target for the IPO (initial public offering) was June.

Sabri reiterated that the IPO would unlock the value of the assets of Felda Global Ventures and benefit a total of 112,635 settlers.

“As spoken by the Prime Minister, the windfall in the wake of the listing is to reward the hard work and sacrifices of the pioneers. The first-generation settlers struggled and made sacrifices for four decades. They opened up the jungle, and back then, there were no roads, water, electricity or proper schools.”

Source: The Star Online

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