Sime Darby Has Contingency Plan For Indonesian Cap On Foreign Ownership

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KUALA LUMPUR – Sime Darby Bhd, which expects the price of crude palm oil (CPO) to hover between RM1,900 and RM2,200 a tonne in the remaining months of the year, has a contingency plan ready for a possible change in legislation on foreign ownership of plantation land in Indonesia.

If the bill is passed, president and group chief executive Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh (pix) said, the group will have to comply with it. News of a possible new reduced limit to foreign ownership of plantations in Indonesia to 30% from 95% broke in mid-August.

“Today we have our contingency plan. When we have to roll out our contingency plan, we’re prepared for it,” Bakke told a press conference after announcing the group’s results for the financial year ended June 30, 2014 (FY14) here on Friday, but declined to reveal details on the plan.

“We don’t think the authorities there will implement or announce something where it expects the players to comply almost immediately. They would give a grace period for compliance,” he said.

The group’s Indonesian plantation currently makes up about 40% of its total plantation size.

Meanwhile Bakke said his depressed projections for CPO is from the overall global scenario with an expected bumper soybean harvest in the States, a 50% to 55% likelihood of El-Niño and competing oilseed crops like canola and sunflower that will also impact CPO price.

“If it (CPO price) continues to remain at this level, definitely it is going to affect us. Our average price for FY14 was so much higher than the current market price, which is below RM2,000. Hopefully it is not going to remain at this level for long.”

Meanwhile, Bakke said the group is also mulling a listing of its motors division by the first half of next year, subject to conducive market conditions.

“We’ve been evaluating all options and opportunities to enhance value. It’s work in progress. There are price-sensitive information and for that reason, it’s still early days for us to share the information.”

For the fourth quarter ended June 30, 2014, the group saw its net profit drop 9% to RM1.19 billion from RM1.31 billion a year ago, while revenue fell 2% to RM12.51 billion compared with RM12.75 billion in the previous corresponding period.

For FY14, the group’s net profit fell 9% to RM3.35 billion from RM3.70 billion a year ago mainly due to the lower segment results and lower profit from discontinued operations. Revenue plunged 5% to RM43.91 billion compared with RM46.11 billion in FY13.

Despite the challenging business conditions, it exceeded its FY14 net profit key performance indicator of RM2.8 billion by 20%.

Bakke said the plantation division was not able to achieve its CPO sales targets due to a 7% drop in fresh fruit bunch (FFB) production compared with FY13. The decline in FFB production was mainly due to changes in cropping trend, particularly in Indonesia, which was affected by adverse weather conditions and also the bumper crop experienced in the previous year. – The Sun