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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 The Star
 Synergy Drive reviewing assets

30/3/07 (The Star) KUALA LUMPUR - Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd, formed to buy Malaysian plantation companies including Sime Darby Bhd, is reviewing its portfolio of assets, fuelling speculation some divisions unrelated to palm oil will be sold. 

The company, which in January agreed to buy Sime Darby, Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd and Golden Hope Plantations Bhd, formed a committee to devise an “action plan for the non-core businesses,'' it said in a statement yesterday. 

Sime Darby has units that sell cars and heavy construction equipment across Asia. 

“On the auto side, there's a lot of competition and they aren't doing very well,” Tursina Yaacob, an analyst at OSK Research in Kuala Lumpur, said.

Two other Synergy Drive committees, tasked with assessing the plantation and property assets, must find cost savings and identify strategic options, the company said in its statement. 

Sime Darby's auto unit posted a loss before tax and interest of RM22.5mil in the three months to Dec 31, compared with a profit of RM94.8mil a year earlier, the company said in February. 

Profit at Sime Darby's heavy equipment unit, a distributor of Caterpillar construction vehicles, surged 27% to RM144.1mil. The company might sell shares in the unit to the public, said Tursina at OSK Research. 

``Work on the merger is on track and work is progressing smoothly,'' Ahmad Zubir said in the statement. 

Sime Darby is the biggest of eight listed entities in the transaction, Malaysia's biggest-ever merger. The company would have a workforce of more than 107,000, Synergy Drive said. – Bloomberg

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