Sabri’s demise big loss to M'sia oil palm industry

Group president Tan Sri Sabri Ahmad during the Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd AGM.... --M. Azhar Arif/The Star.

PETALING JAYA: The demise of Tan Sri Sabri Ahmad (pic), the former Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) group president and chief executive officer (CEO), is a great loss to the country’s oil palm plantation industry.

Sabri, 68, passed away yesterday morning after succumbing to lung cancer diagnosed two years ago.

A true-blue planter with almost three decades of involvement in the industry, Sabri’s strength was basically in supply chain management, international marketing, logistics, branding and downstream activities such as refining and biodiesel.

Sabri is remembered for his tenure as Golden Hope Plantations Bhd CEO (2004 to 2007) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chairman (2007 to 2010). He was also actively involved in the merger exercise of three government-linked plantation giants - Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd, Golden Hope Plantations Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd - in 2007.

After the tripartite merger, Sabri, who was then Sime Darby’s plantation integration adviser, was highly speculated to be in the running for the CEO post in Sime Darby Plantations. However, the post went to Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid.

In 2008, Sabri and two other top officials tendered their resignations from Sime Darby soon after the RM120mil futures trading losses debacle at Golden Hope’s wholly owned refinery, Golden Jomalina Food Industries Sdn Bhd.

However, in July 2010, Sabri made a grand comeback to the corporate scene to succeed Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh as the group president and CEO of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Bakke had to step in as Sime Darby’s acting president and group chief executive after the then Sime Darby president and group chief executive Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid was asked to take a leave of absence by the Sime Darby board, pending an investigation into the group’s massive losses.

At FGV, Sabri’s agenda was to push for a successful listing of the country’s most high-profile and politically-linked plantation conglomerate on Bursa Malaysia, which materialised on June 28, 2012. The FGV listing was the world’s second-largest initial public offering after Facebook in the United States.

He also initiated the Strategic Blueprint (2012-2020) for FGV that will pave the way for more mergers and acquisitions and geographical expansion to better secure the group’s growth prospects.

Last September, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council honoured Sabri as one of the recipients of its Palm Oil Industry Leadership Awards 2014, given his long list of credentials in the palm oil sector within a span of almost three decades. In his speech, Sabri said he was truly grateful for the award and “it was extra special because it comes from my brothers-in-arms in the palm oil industry”.


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