UBS emerges as BPlant substantial shareholder

BPlant said UBS had acquired 20.71 million shares in BPlant, or a 0.92% stake, on Nov 10, 2023, raising its interest to 5.21%.

PETALING JAYA: Swiss-based investment bank UBS Group AG has emerged as a substantial shareholder in Boustead Plantations Bhd (BPlant), which is in the midst of being taken private by the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT).

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, BPlant said UBS had acquired 20.71 million shares in BPlant, or a 0.92% stake, on Nov 10, 2023, raising its interest to 5.21%, or 116.67 million shares.

The acquisition took place on the same day that LTAT made an unconditional mandatory takeover offer for the BPlant shares that it does not own, at RM1.55 per share, for BPlant to be taken private.

BPlant also disclosed yesterday that UBS has been dealing with BPlant shares between Nov 10 and Nov 30 at prices between RM1.47 and RM1.55.

With the latest transaction on Nov 30, UBS has a 5.36% stake or 120.06 million shares in BPlant.

Based on Bloomberg data, UBS is now the third largest shareholder in BPlant after LTAT (43.59%) and Boustead Holdings Bhd (24.42%) while Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) has a 3.09% stake.

On Nov 10, LTAT said it would acquire 739.2 million shares or a 33% stake in BPlant, after a RM1.15bil takeover bid by KLK fell through in October.

The Finance Ministry had agreed to provide a government guarantee for LTAT to take out a RM2bil loan to undertake the general offer.

KLK first announced on Aug 24 that it planned to acquire the 33% stake for RM1.15bil or RM1.55 per share, and would extend a mandatory general offer with plans to increase its stake to 65%.

LTAT and Boustead Holdings, meanwhile, would own the remaining 35%, with BPlant being taken private.

BPlant has shown improvements in its latest financial results.

It returned to the black with a net profit of RM15.22mil in the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2023 (3Q23) from a net loss of RM352,000 a year ago, mainly due to yield and oil extraction rate improvement, as well as a favourable impact of fresh fruit bunch (FFB) valuation.

This is despite a 15% decline in revenue in 3Q23 at RM202.55mil versus RM240.25mil a year ago.

Average crude palm oil price in 3Q23 stood at RM3,861 per tonne, a decrease of 6% from RM4,089 per tonne a year earlier, while the palm kernel average price declined 16% to RM2,101 per tonne.

FFB production fell 4% to 218,130 tonnes, from 227,335 tonnes.

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