Felda listing: A ‘house of lies’

Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz | July 2, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

Felda Global Venture is a rush job and has all the hallmarks of becoming a minefield for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.


With a bottomless pit of scandals and irregularities, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak must be off his rockers when he says he will win 14-0 in the next election.

But I know, the only time he has to say something like that, is when he knows the chips are down.

We know when Najib says he will win 14-0, it means Umno and Barisan Nasional are finished. Otherwise, with a score of 14-0, Najib should have declared election yesterday.

Let’s talk about the Felda Global Venture (FGV) which was listed on June 28.

Najib wants to rake in RM6 billion to pay his way through the next general election.

But did you know that know that only 20% of Felda top management supported the idea of FGV’s initial public offering (IPO)? Some 65% of the FGV staff thought FGV simply isn’t ready to list.

This is obviously a rush job and we must keep asking, why?

From the beginning we have been saying: if settlers’ welfare and economics are the prime concern, then allow KPF (Koperasi Permodalan Felda) to buy out FGV. Then KPF will own 100% of Felda holdings and all the assets therein.

Then what is to stop KPF from forming or hiring a first-rate management company to run its business?

KPF as the settlers’ keeper will then look after settlers’ welfare directly. Felda doesn’t even have to list FGV as it’s out of orbit completely.

But that would be the honest road to walk.

Felda, a ‘minefield for Najib’

Najib’s current world, however, is pretty much constructed by consultants. They provide him with the idea and he goes out there to promote what he thinks are earth-shattering ideas.

And if readers are interested to read about the make-believe world consultants construct, they may want to read House of Lies.

Now, lets see the initial idea. The idea of a listing was mooted by CIMB.

Ethos Consulting was brought in as global project coordinator. They brought in the calvary – Hay Group, Boston Consulting, Aeon Hewitt and maybe more.

Their advice: Don’t touch KPF, treat it like a leper.

The way I see it, the FGV listing has all the hallmarks of becoming a minefield for Najib.

What is the immediate effect of the FGV IPO?

The listing will allow 94.5 % of the subscribers who are not even Felda settlers ride on the broken backs of Felda folks.

Felda settlers get 91 million shares while 1.3 billion shares are taken up by state governments, government-linked companies (GLCs) and cornerstone investors – PNB, EPF and Tabung Haji (each have been asked to take up 20%).

Five state governments, including my home state of Pahang, are also being arm-twisted into taking up 30% shares.

Meanwhile, 420 million shares are set aside for rich individuals who must show they have a least RM3 million in assets and companies worth RM 10 million.

No future

An increasing number of Felda people are becoming more sceptical by the day.

The FGV prospectus is fast acquiring the stature of the bikini version of statistical information – what it reveals is suggestive but what it hides is vital.

For instance, we have not been told that only 3% of Felda landbank is RSPO certified (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).

This means in future, we may find it difficult to sell CPO (crude palm oil) to the world market because much of the landbank from where the CPO comes from is not RSPO-certified.

Also, because we haven’t shown commitment to RSPO, FGV’s plan expansion of plantations in places like Indonesia and Africa may not progress as fast as FGV wants.

Where are the fundamentals to support the business? The productive trees? The market? The price? The industry?

Over 50% of the trees in Felda plantations need to be replanted. That translates into higher costs.

The cost of cultivating a new field is about RM15,000. If 53% of 355,864 hectares need to be re-planted, it will cost RM2.8 billion on replanting alone, spread over five years.

And if you find additional planting areas, you can only reap what you sow in three to four years.

New areas to be planted means more cost and a waiting period.

Dropping demand

Demand from big buyers is slowing down. China and India, for example, are cutting back their purchase of CPO. Malaysia is not the only supplier of CPO.

Indonesia is becoming more competitive and can unload its CPO onto the market, dampening the price of Malaysian CPO.

The fundamentals are not favourable to Malaysia. That being the case, you can’t sustain the price post-listing for long.

This rush job is likely to see Felda and FGV in the same position as ailing MAS (Malaysia Airlines System).

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman but joined DAP earlier this year. He is a FMT columnist.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 9:41 am

    //Najib says he will win 14-0//

    He’s just talking about soccer, and his 14-0 win is over a 3-year-old kid

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 10:57 am

    If he will win 14-0 why postpone GE 13 on advice of TDM who has used the delay to daily re-assert and reinforce UMNO’s traditional race theme and motif (even if in that process it is making the position of BN component parties like MCA, Gerakan and MIC more difficult)? When TDM re-asserts his voice in the campaign in this manner, it does raise the other question bearing on the electoral equation- whether TDM is popular with the 2.2 million new voters many of whom are of younger set with whom Ah Jib Gor may personally be popular by his social media jaunts but whose popularity may then be neutralised by the other’s unpopularity (if that were really the case)?

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 11:40 am

    Najib has to devise “creative” ways to bring in quick bucks as the nation’s debt soon breaches the constitutionally allowed 55% of gdp.

  4. #4 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 2:09 pm

    Jib’s (errrr aka cintanegara’s hero) sole pre-occupation right now is not so much on winning the GE. His actions are in fact wholly inconsistent with an imminent election. He will lose one way or the other. More crucially for jib, he will lose whether umno wins or loses. Like sleepyhead, jib at this point in time is already a goner. He is very much a one-man show. That is why he is not interested to dissolve parliament. He needs time to plot his way out. You see. They way to success is usually very bumpy. So is the way out of trouble. Jib is a man in deep trouble. All sorts of trouble! He has to buy time. And hence the one-man just has to go on for as long as he could carry on.

    Will bn aka umno win? I would like to be cautious and put the margin at 50:50. However, going by recent developments I suspect the winning margin looks quite firmly in pakatan’s favour. I mean whoever expected penang and selangor to turn to the opposition in 308? And the current that drove the 308 tsunami has grown substantially in strength and energy.

    So go get yourself a surfboard people! Be ready.

  5. #5 by digard on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 2:20 pm

    At the European Cup 2012, the Italian Balotelli had announced to mark 4 goals against Spain last night.
    He was right, in some mysterious ways: 4 goals were marked, though against his team, which was beaten 0:4.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 3:04 pm

    If the goal was to focus on Felda’s plantation and operation and improve its performance objectively, then Malaysia is full of talent to do it. BUT if it does so, it will come at least at some expense to the settlers.

    If the goal is to some high-faluting idea of creating a cutting-edge global competitor in the space better than Wilmar, IOI, KLK, etc. – Malaysia already have so many companies who would have done so if it was so easy…

    This was never about ‘transformation’ – it was always about vote-buying and other things first and foremost.

  7. #7 by monsterball on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 3:33 pm

    The whole country knows Najib is scared stiff.
    Win 14-0?
    Which idiot can win 14-0 will hesitate one day to have the 13th GE?
    It’s putting out a comical front …acting to divert attentions from Scorpene … murders and corruptions.
    Talk about that…the truth of 0-14 exposed.

  8. #8 by sheriff singh on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 10:39 pm

    The regulators, both within and external, should study the IPO Prospectus very carefully to see if it conforms to acceptable standards and disclosure requirements. If the prospectus was misleading and inadequate, then liabilities must flow against the parties concerned.

    Who knows? Like Italy, Najib might end up losing 0-14, scoring all 14 own-goals. PR can take a rest.

  9. #9 by sheriff singh on Monday, 2 July 2012 - 10:44 pm

    ‘..what it reveals is suggestive but what it hides is vital…’.

    I like this comment. Reminded me of this:


    Maybe Najib should try a sarong or even a burka.

  10. #10 by PoliticoKat on Tuesday, 3 July 2012 - 10:26 am

    Looking past the pack of lie and at the fundamental of Malaysian palm oil, we as a nation should be worried.

    If half of our plantations needs replanting, we should start now. With rubber gone, palm oil is malaysia’s biggest cash crop.

    Furthermore, we should have our palm oil estates certified. If not we will lose our market.

    Is anybody doing anything to fix these problems?

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