By MUHAMMED AHMAD
NEW STRAITS TIMES
SIME Darby Bhd will be satisified with having only a 51 per cent controlling stake in New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL), which will allow it to secure control of the latter at the shareholder, board and management levels, says its president and group chief executive Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh.
He said the conglomerate was also willing to allow the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government to raise its stake in NBPOL to 30 per cent from 18 per cent upon conclusion of its takeover of NBPOL in a deal worth £1.07 billion (RM5.63 billion).
The acquisition is expected to be completed by December 19.
Sime Darby had on October 9 announced an offer to buy all of NBPOL shares through unit Sime Darby Plantation Sdn Bhd as part of the requirement to obtain a minimum 51 per cent of the voting rights in the global producer of sustainable palm oil.
"The PNG government has expressed interest to increase its stake to 30 per cent, and I think this is good because we would like to work with the authority to grow the business together.
For us, 51 per cent (stake) would be ideal (for Sime Darby)," he said after the company's annual general meeting, here, yesterday.
On the offer price that is fixed at £7.15 for every NBPOL share, a 55.7 per cent premium over its two-month volume weighted average price, Bakke said: "We have itemised the reasons and justifications for making an offer at that price, and we see value".
Sime Darby had said in a statement recently that the acquisition would be funded through internally-generated funds and external borrowings and that the rise in gearing would be managed through tight control of capital expenditure and proceeds from future corporate exercises.
NBPOL has about 135,000ha of land in PNG, of which 80,000ha are planted.
The proposed acquisition by Sime Darby Plantation fits well with the company's strategy to expand its landbank. Post-acquisition, the combined landbank of the two companies will be nearly one million hectares.