Sime Darby Plantation Liberia in a statement issued late Saturday said the takeover by the new company, all its former employees would be retained and there would be no redundancy.
“SDP would like to clarify that this take-over exercise will not involve any redundancy of SDPL’s current employees. The new buyer will honour its commitment for continued employment of all SDPL’s employees and as such, questions on severance payment do not arise. SDP believes the new owner acknowledges the importance of maintaining existing well trained workforce. The new owner has also given its commitment to honour all contractual commitments made with the local communities in our Memorandum of Understanding, Memorandum of Agreement and Concession Agreement,” the statement said.
Malaysia’s Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, the world’s largest oil palm planter by land size, said on Friday it would sell its underperforming palm oil concession in Liberia to a local company.
A Liberian Government Minister first announced the Sime Darby deal with Mano Manufacturing Company (MANCO), the West African country’s largest manufacturer of household health and cleaning products.
A Sime Darby statement did not give a value for the deal.
It signed a 63-year concession in 2009 for 220,000 hectares in northwestern Liberia, which made up a fifth of its global land holdings.
The company said mid this year that it intended to divest from Liberia by the end of the year in the face of tighter environmental rules and resistance to its expansion from green groups, who push for “no deforestation” rules.
Sime Darby said it was working with-Mano Manufacturing Company (MANCO) unit Mano Palm Oil Industries to sign the terms and conditions of the deal by the end of 2019. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020, Sime Darby said.
The company has spent more than $200 million on its Liberian operations and filed 111.8 million ringgit ($26.81 million) impairment on those for its financial year that ended in June 2018.
’With reference to the recent news on the transition of Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) to a new owner, MANO Palm Oil Industries (MPOI), Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) would like to confirm that we are divesting our 100% equity stake in SDPL to MPOI.
“Both parties have finalized the terms and conditions of this divestment exercise via a Sale & Purchase Agreement (SPA), and are targeting the legal completion of this transaction in the first quarter of 2020. The approval from the Government of Liberia (GOL) for the divestment to proceed as such has also been obtained,” the statement said.
“As part of SDP’s commitment to a smooth transition of ownership, there will be a 12-month period of transition for a proper transfer of knowledge to the new owner. SDP will assign our existing expatriates with operational expertise and experience to ensure that the new owner will be able to continue running the operations and managing relationship with existing stakeholders with minimal disruption. MPOI technical competencies will be reviewed progressively and existing local talents will be strengthened. Out-grower expertise will also be deployed to expedite the out-growers and community oil palm scheme.
“SDP has left an indelible legacy here in Liberia, not just in the development of palm oil operations but also in making a positive socio-economic impact to local communities.
SDP is proud of our legacy in developing 10,401 hectares of oil palm plantation and the human resources capabilities (including estate managers, engineers, executives and staff) to enable the new owner to continue running the operations and offer continued employment for communities surrounding SDPL’s estates.
“SDPL operates one mill with the current capacity of 35MT/hr located in Grand Cape Mount. The average age profile of the trees is 6 – 8 years old, with the oldest being 8 years old and latest planting activity took place in March 2019. Currently, the estates are producing an average yield of 2 MT/ha of oil and FFB volume of 10 MT/ha.
“SDP has also developed fundamental facilities such as schools, houses, roads, clinics and important amenities like hand pumps and latrines that will continue to benefit and be used by SDPL employees and surrounding local communities.
“We believe the new owner MPOI is excited to continue the journey where SDP has left off and it would be in their interest, as well as the interest of this country and Liberians to ensure the success of this venture moving forward.
“MPOI, a company that is majority-owned by Mano Manufacturing Company (MANCO) has been a very proud business partner and a primary buyer of SDPL’s Crude Palm Oil (CPO) since 2016. In addition, MANCO is a local Liberian company with more than 50 years of experience, which gives them the leverage of operating in the region.
The new owner, MPOI in their testimony is committed to upholding the sustainability agenda by remaining in full compliance to the RSPO principles and reactivating the Outgrowers’ Programme for the community and forest conservation.
“SDP would like to reiterate our commitment towards a Responsible Exit from Liberia. SDP and new owner are committed to a responsible transfer of ownership. All current businesses will continue “as-is-basis” with only SDPL’s ownership changing hands to MPOI,” it concluded.