Palm Oil Planter Kulim To Expand Operations In PNG, Solomon Islands

Kulim (Malaysia) Bhd has identified more than 10,000 hectares of land in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Islands for the development of new oil palm plantations, its chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim said today.

The company’s aggressive expansion in the two countries will be undertaken by its subsidiary companies New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL) and Ramu Agri-Industries Ltd.

“The group has identified a new plantation area of about 6,000 hectares in PNG, where planting is scheduled to take off end of this year.

“In the Solomon Islands, it has identified 4,100 hectares of land next to an existing plantation and planting here is expected to start on 1,000 hectares first,” he told reporters after the company’s annual general meeting here today.

Currently, Kulim owns 83,000 hectares of plantation land in Malaysia, PNG and Solomon Islands and expects to double its hectarage in the two foreign countries in 10 years.

Muhammad Ali said following the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, the company has started negotiations with several parties in Europe for the sustainable supply of palm oil.

The company’s new mill in Liverpool, United Kingdom is expected to start operations early next year and this is expected to boost market prospects for the company’s product in Europe.

Kulim also expects to open two more processing plants in PNG in 2010 and 2012, he said.

Earlier, Muhammad Ali announced that the company’s pre-tax profit for the first quarter of 2009 had declined by 39.23 percent compared with the corresponding period of last year. He attributed the lower performance to the difficult operations for oleochemicals faced by its subsidiary, Natural Oleochemicals Sdn Bhd (NatOleo).

However, although its pre-tax profit fell to RM129.32 million compared with RM212.79 million last year, its revenue went up 54.33 percent to RM463.46 million, Muhammad Ali said.

NatOleo faced difficult operations in the first quarter, registering a loss of RM26.91 million.

“This was caused by the cancellation in contracts where the cost of the main raw material was high.”

The situation is however expected to get better and NatOleo is expected to register profits in the second quarter of 2009, he added.

Its subsidiary, KFC Holdings (Malaysia) Bhd (KFCH) meanwhile has also received the greenlight from Yum! restaurant in India to open 12 KFC restaurants in Mumbai and Pune by end of next year.

KFCH will spend US$10 million to open the restaurants in India.

QSR Brands and KFCH are also expected to spend RM48 million to open up more KFC and Pizza Hut outlets nationwide in line with the growing demand in market, he added.

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