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03.02.2010 Business & Finance

Unilever to divest interest in Benso, Twifo oil palm plantations

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Unilever to divest interest in Benso, Twifo oil palm plantations

February 02, 2010
Accra, Feb 2, GNA - Unilever Ghana is to divest its interestor seek strategic partnership in twopalm plantations it owns because of a significant decline in volumes and the unprofitable nature of the venture to focuson fast moving consumer products, an official of the company said in Accra on Tuesday.

The company is also considering giving up on oil processing activities and the frytol brand.

"Certainly, now that we have the mandate to go ahead the process kicks off," Mr Charles Coffie, CEO of Unilever, toldjournalists aftershareholders approved a resolutionat an Extraordinary General Meeting to authorise the company's directorsto grow and strengthen the core consumer goods business of the company.

Unilever holds 58.4 per centof the shares in Benso Oil Palm Plantation Limited, a listed agro-business and 40 per cent shares in Twifo Oil Palm Plantation Limited, a private limited liability company.

There are no time lines as the company must first meet the regulatory requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Ghana Stock Exchange.

The disposal, alliances and/or strategicpartnership might lead to Unilever Ghana losing up to 70 per cent of crude palm oil requirement that the plantations currently supply and this needsto be secured via a supply agreement with the partner or buyer.

Besides, the plantations' contribution to Unilever Ghana'sprofit through dividendscould be lost or reduced.

"We have the mandate now to look at the way forward. It doesn't rule out anything, the directors will explore the best options and take a decision thatwill be in the best interest of shareholders," Mr Coffie said.

Unilever Ghana remains the only Unilever company that still owns plantations after the parent company divested holdings inMalaysia, Thailand, Cote d'Ivoire and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The plantations are expected to benefit from class technology and agricultural practices as well as capital investment into the operations.


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