May 31, 2018 / 9:51 AM / 20 days ago

UPDATE 1-Sime Darby Plantations no longer considering Ruchi Soya purchase -executive

(Recasts with comments on India deal)

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (Reuters) - Malaysia’ Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, the world’s largest palm oil planter by land holdings, is no longer considering buying Indian edible oil importer Ruchi Soya, a company executive said on Thursday.

Sime Darby Plantation in February said it had submitted an expression of interest for Ruchi Soya, which was undergoing bankruptcy proceedings under India’s National Company Law Tribunal.

However, Managing Director Mohd Bakke Salleh said during a news conference on the company’s earnings that it was no longer interested.

“After we have carried out the evaluation of that company, we realise it would be in our interest not to proceed with the submission of a bid,” he said. “We stopped there...the matter is dead.”

At the press conference, Sime Darby said its third-quarter net profit fell 39 percent versus a year ago, on lower fresh fruit bunch production and weaker commodity prices.

Sime Darby Plantation’s fresh fruit bunch output for 2018 is expected to be 10.2 million tonnes, Bakke Salleh said.

He did not forecast crude palm oil output.

Palm oil production in Malaysia, the world’s second-biggest producer after Indonesia, is estimated at 20.5 million tonnes in 2018, according to a Reuters poll and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

Bakke Sallah said the company is forecasting palm oil prices in June to be in a range between 2,400 ringgit ($603) to 2,500 ringgit per tonne.

Benchmark palm oil prices fell 0.1 percent on Thursday to 2,438 ringgit per tonne.

The company was still looking to reduce its ownership in New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL), its Papua New Guinea arm, to a 51 percent to 60 percent stake. It said in February that it was looking for a strategic investor from Papua New Guinea.

“We have to make sure that whoever is going to acquire this (stake) must be long-term players. Our preference is to have a strategic partnership with any of the institutions in Papua New Guinea,” Bakke Salleh said. ($1 = 3.9780 ringgit) (Reporting by Liz Lee and Emily Chow; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christian Schmollinger)

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