Wilmar aims to grow sugar ops in Indonesia, Brazil

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 07 Jul 2010

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Wilmar International, the world’s largest listed palm oil firm, said on yesterday it was keen to grow its sugar business by setting up operations in Indonesia and Brazil.

Wilmar, which also deals in soybean, wheat and rice, identified sugar as another core business on Monday when it agreed to buy Sucrogen, Sydneybased CSR’s sugar business, for US$1.5bil.

“Sucrogen will allow Wilmar to build a leading position in sugar, starting with Indonesia,” the Singapore-listed firm said in a presentation.

Wilmar plans to combine Sucrogen, the world’s second largest exporter of raw sugar and Australia’s top maker of sugarbased ethanol, with its fledgling sugar operations in Indonesia.

Wilmar, the second largest listed firm on the Singapore bourse, has a concession to develop 200,000 hectares of grassland in Indonesia’s Papua island for sugar cultivation which it will start later this year. — Reuters

“The priority is to build the Indonesian sugar operations. For Brazil if there is something cheap then we will look at it,” Wilmar’s chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong said at a briefing in Singapore.

He said, however, that Wilmar had no immediate plans to buy over his uncle Robert Kuok’s 30,000 hectares of Indonesian sugar plantations.

The older Kuok, nicknamed “Sugar King”, built his fortune in the sugar industry to become Malaysia’s richest man but has since diversified into other areas such as property. Robert Kuok sold his Malaysian sugar empire to a government agency last year.

“Acquiring Sucrogen will jump-start expansion and would be quicker than developing new plantations,” CLSA said in a note yesterday.

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