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 EcoFirst mulls biotech to help turnaround

31/7/06 (The Edge Daily)  -  Loss-making EcoFirst Consolidated Bhd hopes to turn around in the next two to three years with plans to venture into biotechnology and to expand its plantation land in India.

Its group managing director Datuk Clement Hii said the company was eyeing the "interesting area" of biotechnology. Declining to elaborate, he said it had yet to "firm up details" of its planned biotechnology business.

He said EcoFirst was building a solid foundation by identifying new businesses and implementing its plans to ensure a steady flow of revenue.

On the company’s website, Hii is quoted as saying: "We have decided that based on our 10 years of experience in India in the oil palm industry, our natural progression shall be in the agro-biotechnological field.

“We have put in place a solid plan to re-focus our core businesses in this exciting field by setting up several businesses in Malaysia and in India to fully capitalise on our expertise, experience and knowledge in agro-biotechnology."

Speaking to reporters after EcoFirst’s EGM in Subang Jaya on July 31, Hii said it also hoped to firm up plans to increase its oil palm hectarage in India in the near term.

“We have been invited by another state in India to go into and develop between 10,000ha and 15,000ha oil palm land,” he added.

Its subsidiary Palm Tech India Ltd now has a planted area of 10,000ha of oil palm under a concession of 280,000ha of gazetted land in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka for integrated oil palm development. It also operates two palm oil mills producing 8,000 tonnes of crude palm oil annually.

Hii said EcoFirst would be accelerating its efforts to plant 20,000ha within the next five years.

He said the company was consolidating and strengthening its existing businesses in manufacturing, construction and properties.

On the manufacturing of natural fibre composites, Hii said: "Once we increase our production capacity, we will see good profits in six months' time."

Hii said EcoFirst was confident of securing a local infrastructure project worth some RM100 million to RM200 million “very soon.” Its construction arm is now undertaking some RM400 million worth of projects.

On its bid for construction projects in the Middle East and South Asia, he said it hoped to secure projects worth between RM100 million and RM200 million this year. EcoFirst has teamed up with Hong Kong’s Wai Shun Group for the venture.

Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
Tel : 603 - 7802 2800 || Fax : 603 - 7803 3533