The National, Monday August 11th, 2014
THE National Government has formally received a notice from Kulim (Malaysia) Behard of its decision to dispose off its 48.97% interest in New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL), Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru said.
He said the government received in the notice that Kulim has already had a preferred buyer of its shares.
NBPOL had stated in an announcement that it was yet to receive any direct proposal from any party with respect to the proposed acquisition of Kulim’s equity stake.
However, Maru said the government maintained its stand to protect national interest.
“Our position is as follows:
- That under no circumstances will we allow a foreign company to acquire more than 49 percent shares in NBPOL.
This would be against our national interest and our courts have reaffirmed this position as you would have known in a previous attempt by “Kulim” to increase their shares beyond 50 percent.
Our position will always remain regardless of who wants to acquire Kulim’s shares;
- The government is desirous that PNG citizens or our wholly owned companies, including the institutional shareholders, increase our current shareholding from 18.5% to 30% in the immediate future to protect our national interest;
- we are prepared to support any incoming acquirer to acquire Kulim shares based on an exemption basis if the incoming buyer agrees and signs a binding agreement with the state to ensure that within two years of acquiring these shares, they will deliver a number of critical projects and changes that meet our national interest requirements; and,
- We are engaging with all the potential bidders of Kulim shares to secure our national interest and will not be restricted to one so called “preferred buyer.”
Maru said the procedures to acquire Kulim’s shares in NBPOL were provided under provisions of the Takeovers Code 1998.
He said the Securities Commission may issue exemptions of any or all of the provisions of takeovers code if it deemed necessary.
“Alternatively Kulim can dispose its shares in NBPOL by going to the market.
“That would be done by initially offering its shares to current shareholders under their pre-emptive rights option and up scaling to the full auctioning of their shares in the market, under provisions of the takeovers code.
“Finally the shares can be sold to a buyer that the government and Kulim are both happy with.”