TRADEWINDS Bhd chief executive Mohd Redza Shah Abdul Wahid said he was "very excited" with the merger between the plantations of Tradewinds and Johore Tenggara Oil Palm Bhd (JTop). This will place the plantations in a focused public-listed vehicle. Redza and JTop's executive director Lim Edin Nom met Starbiz associate editor C.S. TAN to relate other aspects of merger. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Starbiz: Will Jubilant be the name of the merged entity?
Redza: No, it will not be. That is just the vehicle for the exercise. We'll change its name to something relating to Tradewinds.
StarBiz: After the plantations merger, Tradewinds' only direct interest is in sugar refining. Will Tan Sri (Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary) inject his own sugar business into Tradewinds?
Redza: All I can say is we'll be looking for growth in both plantations and sugar.
StarBiz: Will the group be buying more plantation land?
Redza: We'll focus on developing our land. Unlike, some plantation companies which has to acquire land to grow, we have the land bank.
StarBiz: Has the Kuok group agreed to the merger?
Redza: At the Tradewinds board, the decision for the merger was unanimous. (Kuok group has two representatives on the Tradewinds board).
StarBiz: I'm told by analysts they'd prefer Kuok group to be represented in the merged company. Will they be represented?
Lim: If you look at the shareholding structure, they'll still be substantial shareholders. They should be on the new board. We're friendly with them.
StarBiz: Is there friction with the Kuok group, going by reports that Tan Sri (Syed Mokhtar) wants to break the Kuok monopoly on sugar?
Redza: They don’t have a monopoly.
Their AP (approved permit) quota for retail sales is 50%. We have a quota of 25%.
The perception of their monopoly could be due to this. They own Malayan Sugar Manufacturing. They also have a shareholding in Tradewinds and in Felda's sugar refinery and they also have a 12% stake in Tan Sri's Gula Padang Terap.
Of course, everyone wants to increase their quota, but it's a government decision. The Kuok people are very professional and we're on friendly terms.