27/08/2007 (The Star Online), PUTRAJAYA - Felda is set to go global through its ventures in the international market in two areas it is most familiar with - palm oil and food.
One of the biggest feats in the history of Felda's establishment is the 100% acquisition of Twin Rivers Technologies Group, a United States' oleo chemical company, which will see the authority becoming the owner of the third largest fatty acids and the largest bio-diesel producer in North America.
Another major accomplishment is that Felda's catering section, D'Saji, will be opening its first restaurant overseas in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, come November.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the aim had always been for Felda not only to be a global player but also a global leader, particularly in the palm oil industry.
"The acquisition of the US company is very much consonant with Felda's overall business strategy. We are delighted to have discovered this company and the people who established the company are keen to work and have a long-term relationship with Felda," he said.
Najib had earlier witnessed the signing of the acquisition deal between Felda and the Twin Rivers Technologies Group (TRT). Felda was represented by its director-general Datuk Tarmizi Alias while chairman Irwin Heller signed for TRT Group.
The acquisition, worth around US$71mil (RM241.1mil) provides a strategic platform to get Felda's palm products into North America and the move will enable the authority to diversify both geographically and products-wise in the vegetable oils arena.
The Deputy Prime Minister said Felda would continue to look at other possible international acquisitions to further strengthen its position as a world player in the industry.
"The other advantage is that we are able to expose our executives to some of the best international practices. This is the hidden benefit of the acquisition.
"Of course there will also be challenges but if we can work together with the Government, the challenges can be overcome," Najib said, adding the United States' import for palm oil has increased significantly where in 2006, a total of 683,000 tons of palm oil was imported compared to the 300,000 tons in 2004.
To a question, Najib said Malaysia's role in assisting African nations to build their oil palm industry was through the Malaysian Technical Co-operation Programme (MTCP), adding the Government was willing to extend assistance if there were "invites from countries in the continent".
The Government is currently engaged in business activities in Sierra Leone where 1,400ha of palm oil has been planted. Felda is the lead agency for the project while the Government provides support, including financial assistance for the programme.
"I am also excited and pleased that Felda will be opening a restaurant in Mecca. This will be the authority's first foray to test its culinary capabilities. I am confident they will succeed and look forward to the possibility of opening many more of such restaurants worldwide," he said.