* Wilmar says plan stalled as not approved by authorities
* Palm oil firms face stumbling blocks expanding into Papua
* Region lacks infrastructure, manpower
(Adds detail, comment)
SINGAPORE, July 23 A planned venture between
Wilmar International and Noble Group Ltd to
develop palm plantations in Indonesia's Papua region has stalled
just months after it was announced as it failed to win approval
Palm oil companies have been looking at expanding in
so-called frontier markets such as Papua, but face hurdles
ranging from regulatory uncertainty and lack of infrastructure
to manpower shortages and resistance from locals and
"The Wilmar-Noble JV is off the table as certain relevant
merger clearances were not received (before a deadline)," a
Wilmar spokeswoman said on Tuesday, without specifying which
authorities had failed to give the greenlight.
The venture holds a majority interest in PT Henrison Inti
Persada, which owns around 23,000 hectares of land in Papua.
Both companies had planned to produce and sell crude palm oil
and its by-products.
Analysts said the stymied project was unlikely to have a big
impact on the firms' earnings due to the relatively small size
of the land and as the development was still in very early
"This was probably unexpected by the companies, but I think
they are still keen to work together and look for other
opportunities both in Papua and other markets," said James Koh,
an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng.
Firms that have tried to develop palm plantations in Papua
with little success include a unit of Singapore-listed Golden
Agri-Resources Ltd, which has 13,355 hectares of palm
land there. It has total planted areas of around 464,300
(Reporting by Rujun Shen, Eveline Danubrata and Michael Taylor;
Editing by Joseph Radford)