May 31

Felda settler group rejects explanation on share price plunge

Anak president Mazlan Aliman says Felda’s explanation on plunge in share price us just an excuse for FGVH’s poor business decisions. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 31, 2015.Felda settlers have rejected Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad’s (FGVH) explanation that the fall in share prices and the company’s poor performance were partly due to severe floods late last year which affected its plantation operations.
National Felda Settlers’ Children’s Association (Anak), a group that represents settlers and their families, is also worried about blowback from the plunge in share prices, which have fallen by more than 50% since it was listed three years ago. Sheridan Mahaveran reports:
Anak president Mazlan Aliman said the severe flooding occurred in Kelantan, which does not have much oil palm plantation.”The severe flooding happened in Kelantan, how many FGVH plantations are there in Kelantan?” Mazlan asked.According to FGVH’s website, its largest plantations in Malaysia are located in Pahang and Sabah.“The floods in Pahang were not as bad. I do not buy the explanation. I think it’s just an excuse for the company’s poor business decisions,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.On May 28, The Star reported that the plunge was due to rating cuts by analysts after the company posted its worst ever quarterly results since its listing.FGVH officials told The Star that low crude palm oil (CPO) prices worldwide and severe floods late last year had affected oil palm production badly and depressed earnings.

Mazlan said the fall in prices had hurt more than 94,000 settlers who bought shares in FGVH and who now pay RM50 a month to service loans taken to buy those shares.

FGVH’s falling share prices, he said, could also hurt the earnings of 113,000 settlers who are members of Koperasi Permodalan Felda (KPF), a cooperative of settlers and Felda employees, which invested RM800 million in FGV last year.

This was after KPF agreed to a controversial sale of its 51% stake in Felda Holdings Berhad (FHB), the world’s largest CPO producer, to FGVH.

Mazlan said that 80% of KPF’s strength came from its stake in FHB and allowed the cooperative to pay out yearly dividends of 15% to 16%, among the highest in the world for cooperatives.

“KPF has about RM2.7 billion in members’ contributions. It used to be among the top 20 cooperatives in the world,” said Mazlan when contacted.

As a result of the fall in FGVH shares, KPF is expected to announce a dividend of 10% at its annual general meeting on June 10, he said.

FGVH shares fell to RM1.92 on May 28, its lowest since the company debuted on the stock market in June 2012.

It was reported that at the time of its listing at RM4.55 per share, it was the second biggest initial public offering in the world after Facebook.

The Star report of May 28 said FGVH’s first quarter net profit plunged 98% to RM3.58 million from RM143.63 million a year ago.

On April 8, when FGV shares dropped to RM2.09, DAP lawmaker Tony Pua said that the 94,125 settlers who still held on to their shares would have lost an estimated RM177 million.

Each settler had bought 800 shares from FGVH at RM4.45 per unit, totalling RM3,560.

Two days ago, PKR state legislator Lee Chean Chung estimated that with the latest drop in share price to RM1.92, each settler would have lost RM2,024.

“From RM3,560, that value is now only RM1,536,” said Lee in a statement. – May 31, 2015.

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