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Asian Plantations reveals talks with suitors

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Asian Plantations confirmed that it is in "discussions with a number of parties" over the potential sale of company.

The announcement comes follow reports in local media that Malaysian group Felda Global Ventures was one name in the frame.

Obtaining fresh land in Indonesia and, especially, Malaysia for oil palm plantations has become increasing difficult in recent years.

Indeed, the quest for new plantation land is driving many groups to investigate West Africa, a region which many investors have previously steered clear of for fears over political instability.

A deal such as acquiring Asian Plantations is viewed as an easy way for a big group to expand its footprint and gain economies of scale

'Hot target'

FGV has been actively expanding its landbank in the past year through a series of high profile mergers and acquisitions, including the 1.2bn-ringgit takeover of Pontian United Plantations and majority stakes in plantation companies in West Kalimantan.

Asian Plantations has also expanded, including with the acquisition of 3,850 hectares of land in Sarawak at a cost of 24.7m remninbi ($7.5m) last year raising its landbank to 24,622 hectares.

At the time group joint chief executive, Dennis Melka, said: "It has become more apparent during the course of 2011 and 2012 that the availability of appropriately-titled land suitable for the development of palm oil plantations in Sarawak is becoming increasingly scarce".

Asian Plantations may be viewed as a 'hot target' among large plantation companies, reflecting the relatively young tree age profile, which are mostly under 15 years.

The group reported crude palm oil sales totalling 26,584 tonnes last year, generating 62.7m remninbi in revenue.

Reaction to the takeover news pushed the share price for Asian Plantations higher, up 16.3% to 250p in afternoon deals in London.

By Agrimoney.com

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