Sime Darby Plantation Bhd., Malaysia’s biggest listed palm oil producer, is exploring a sale of a minority stake in its Papua New Guinea unit, people familiar with the matter said.
Sime Darby Plantation has asked potential advisers for proposals on options for its New Britain Palm Oil Ltd. subsidiary, according to the people. The Malaysian firm, based on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, is considering selling 25 percent to 49 percent of the business, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Sime Darby Plantation has spoken with some prospective buyers to gauge their interest in the stake, one of the people said.
In any deal, Sime Darby Plantation would seek a valuation for New Britain Palm Oil of at least $1.7 billion, the amount it paid when it acquired the company in 2015, the people said. Any deal would add to the $5.6 billion of announced acquisitions of agriculture-related companies in Asia over the last 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Deliberations are at an early stage, and details of any potential transaction could change, according to the people. Sime Darby Plantation could also consider other options for New Britain Palm Oil such as a relisting of the business, the people said. A representative for Sime Darby Plantation said the company’s priority is to create more value for shareholders from its existing asset portfolio, declining to comment further.
Sime Darby Plantation operates and manages 248 plantation estates and 72 palm oil mills in Malaysia, Indonesia, PNG, the Solomon Islands and Liberia, its website shows. The company was spun out from Sime Darby Bhd. last year.
New Britain Palm Oil owns 12 oil mills and two refineries, one in PNG and one in Liverpool, U.K., as well as a seed production and plant breeding facility.