By TK Chua
Felda Global Ventures Berhad (FGV) has attracted lots of attention lately. Mainly it is centred on its less than satisfactory performance since its listing. While some significant shareholders have expressed their displeasure, others have ceased to remain as shareholders.
I am not a corporate expert or fund manager. So I will just make some simple observations and ask some simple questions. Hopefully those more learned than myself will be able to enlighten the rest of us.
FGV was listed in mid-2012, and hailed as the second largest IPO after FB. The IPO reference price was RM4.55 per share. In fact, at the initial trading after listing, the price was traded as high as RM5.46.
Although the IPO price is not a guarantee of true value, it is nonetheless the market’s valuation of the company at the time. The price was determined by a large number of institutional investors through the book-building process. Hence, at around RM5.00 per share, I believe it was a fair representation of FGV’s valuation in mid-2012.
Today the listing price of FGV is around RM1.70 per share. In fact, it has been hovering at around this level for a long time.
So between 2012 and 2017, may I know what happened in FGV? Did the company suffer a natural catastrophe that wiped out its assets? Did poor commodity prices affect only FGV and not other plantation companies? In fact, most plantation companies were performing reasonably well during this period even with less than stellar commodity prices.
I am sure that all the institutional investors valuing FGV at RM5.00 per share in 2012 cannot all be wrong. However, today many of them are suffering massive losses, including EPF that has divested from FGV completely as reported.
I am glad that FGV is a listed company. Otherwise we may not have ever known the company suffered so much of a depreciation of its market value. Now it is for those in the know to tell us why – why the value of the company, instead of growing like others, has depreciated so much within the last five years?
What losses have they incurred? What poor investments have they made? What blunders have they committed? What non-core businesses have they ventured into?
What is FGV’s yield and replanting cost per hectare when compared with other plantation companies? What about cost per tonne of palm oil produced by FGV vis-à-vis other plantation companies?
Felda was one of the most successful social-economic engineering programmes ever undertaken by Malaysia. These are the facts. Sadly, I think a group of half-baked corporate chieftains completely destroyed this institution within a few years, after their forefathers took a generation to build it.
Where else is this group of half-baked corporate chieftains going to do next – Felcra, Mara, EPF, LTAT, or Tabung Haji?
TK Chua is an FMT reader.