Malaysia

KPF says Felda listing snub against PM’s pledge to settlers

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
April 27, 2012

Isa said negotiations with KPF would cause FGVH to miss its targeted listing date. — File picIsa said negotiations with KPF would cause FGVH to miss its targeted listing date. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Felda Global Ventures Holdings’ (FVGH) decision to proceed with its listing exercise without Koperasi Permodalan Felda (KPF) went against the prime minister’s promise to settlers, the co-operative said today.

KPF board member Datuk Zainal Hassan said the co-operative was “shocked” with Felda’s move, and that it contradicted what Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said in Parliament when present the 2012 Budget last year.

“The honourable prime minister had said: ‘Whatever happens the rights and benefits of settlers will be guaranteed through a majority share ownership by KPF.’

“This speech showed the official government stand that, even though FGVH was about to be listed in Bursa Malaysia, the interests of 230,000 of KPF members would be ensured through the majority share ownership by KPF in the listed FGVH entity,” he said in a statement.

“What the PM announced is a government policy, which should have been respected by Felda,” he added.

Zainal said that KPF had always supported FGVH’s listing initiative, and that it had taken “proactive” measures including appointing consultants as well as an advisory board for the purpose of the planned listing.

He said that the injunction filed by a several Felda settlers to stop KPF’s EGM was beyond the co-operative’s control, but maintained that majority of the KPF had always supported the listing.

“The irony here is that the plans of a few Felda settlers and staff influenced by the National Felda Settlers’ Children’s Association (Anak) to stop KPF’s involvement in the FGVH listing seems to have been achieved with the announcement made by the Felda chairman without having to go through any more court injunctions.”

Felda chairman Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad said earlier this week that while KPF has finally agreed to the listing, there is not enough time to discuss the terms and conditions before the target listing date of within the May-June period.

The listing of the plantation giant was promised by the prime minister to be a “windfall” for the Felda settlers, a traditional vote bank for Umno. It is seen as important to ensuring continued support from the settlers in the upcoming general election which widely expected to be held in June.

KPF had approved in an EGM last week for its board to start negotiations with Felda on the terms of conditions for the disposal of its stake in Felda Holdings Berhad in exchange for a substantial shareholding in FGVH. Isa said that KPF could still become a shareholder in FGVH after the IPO, subject to discussions.

The farmers’ co-operative was supposed to hold its EGM in February before it was postponed due to a court injunction taken out by a group of settlers opposed to the plan to transfer shares to FGVH.

The EGM took place on April 19 after the injunction was dismissed by the Kuantan High Court. KPH holds a 51 per cent stake in Felda Holdings Berhad and FGVH holds the remaining 49 per cent.

FGVH is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Felda, a statutory body under the Prime Minister’s Department.