PNG govt keen to hold 30% stake in NBPOL

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 13): The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government intends to raise its equity stake to 30% in New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL), the plantation firm to which Sime Darby Bhd has made a takeover offer last month.

The PNG government currently holds an 18% stake in the PNG-based oil palm planter.

Sime Darby’s president and group chief executive Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh commented that the PNG government's intention to hold higher shareholding would be good for Sime Darby.

Bakke said that to own a 51% stake in NBPOL "is ideal" for Sime Darby.

"Definitely, we would like to work with the authority and the PNG government to grow the business," Bakke told reporters after Sime Darby’s annual general meeting here today.

To recap, Sime Darby had made a take-over offer for the entire 100% equity stake in NBPOL last month (October) for £1.07 billion (about RM5.7 billion) cash, or £7.15 per share.

The takeover offer is conditional upon Sime Darby receiving not less than 51% of the voting rights in NBPOL.

NBPOL produces palm oil in PNG and the Solomon Islands. The firm has 77,000ha of oil palm plantation, 12 palm oil mills and one refinery each in PNG and Liverpool in the UK.

Sime Darby's counter fell 1 sen or 0.1% to close at RM9.60 today, valuing the company at RM58.21 billion.