The Business Times

Sime is 'preferred bidder' for 49% stake in NBPOL

But Felda Global still interested in the PNG plantation firm

Published Mon, Sep 22, 2014 · 04:00 PM
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ALTHOUGH Malaysian multinational Sime Darby has emerged as the "preferred bidder" for a 49 per cent interest in Papua New Guinea-based New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL), at least one other government- linked corporation, Felda Global Ventures (FGV), remains interested in the London-listed plantation firm.

At the end of July, Sime told the stock exchange that it had been given 60 days to "finalise the terms of the transaction". Separately, the vendor Kulim Malaysia said that it had informed NBPOL and the relevant PNG authorities of its intention to sell its entire equity interest in NBPOL to Sime. Officials familiar with the transaction said that Sime executives were currently in PNG doing a due-diligence audit of NBPOL.

But industry officials also say there is nothing to stop another bidder from emerging after the 60-day period, underlining FGV's intent in its appointment of JPMorgan as its adviser. In addition, they said that both parties had lobbied Prime Minister Najib Razak to intervene in support of one or the other party, but they maintained that Mr Najib had indicated that he would remain neutral in the matter and leave it to the markets.

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