May 31, 2017 / 9:23 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Sime Darby sees palm oil above 2,500 rgt/T, higher group output

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* Palm oil's support at 2,500 ringgit, at least for 6 months - CEO

* Production for April-June quarter forecast to rise 3 percent

* Plantation, property spin-offs targeted for end-2017 (Adds production forecast, comment about listing plans.)

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (Reuters) - Crude palm oil prices are expected to stay above 2,500 ringgit ($584) per tonne for the next six months, the chief executive of Sime Darby Bhd , the world's largest oil palm planter by land size, said on Wednesday.

Spot palm prices, currently at 2,700 ringgit per tonne, will see support at 2,500 ringgit for the next few months, Mohd Bakke Salleh told reporters after Sime Darby reported a rise in third-quarter profit.

"For next month, we think the range is 2,600 to 2,800 ringgit per tonne of crude palm oil. We do not think price will drop below 2,500 ringgit, at least for the next six months," Bakke said.

Sime Darby's crude palm oil production for the April-June quarter is forecast to rise 3 percent, plantation division managing director Franki Anthony Dass said.

The company expects another 3 percent increase in production in the last quarter of the financial year, largely from Malaysia, with output from New Britain in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia remaining largely flat.

"We will close the year 3-4 percent higher than last year," Dass said.

Palm oil output in Malaysia, the world's No.2 producer of the tropical oil, is expected to rise from now until the third quarter of the year in line with seasonal trend and as the crop damaging effects of a dry weather El Nino wear off.

In turn, palm prices are widely expected to fall.

Company Spin-Offs

On listing two of its divisions as "pure play" companies, Bakke said external candidates can be expected in leadership roles in the plantation and property units.

The conglomerate said early this year it planned separate listings of its plantations and property businesses on the local stock exchange. Sime Darby would keep its trading and logistics business in the parent company that would retain its listed status.

"We hope to see the listing before the end of the year; we'd like to complete the exercise before the December break," Bakke said, adding Sime Darby aimed to submit listing proposals in the third quarter.

In February, Sime Darby said it would undergo a restructuring to ensure "optimal capital structure" for its plantations and property businesses spin off.

Sime Darby's plantations and property businesses accounted for nearly 70 percent of its profit during the 2016 business year. ($1 = 4.2810 ringgit) (Reporting by Emily Chow and Liz Lee; Editing by Tom Hogue and Amrutha Gayathri)

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