Unilever to divest interest in Benso, Twifo oil palm plantations

Mr. Charles Cofie

Unilever Ghana is to divest its interest or seek strategic partnership in two palm plantations it owns because of a significant decline in volumes and the unprofitable nature of the venture to focus on 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, told journalists after shareholders approved a resolution at an Extraordinary General Meeting to authorise the company’s directors to grow and strengthen the core consumer goods business of the company.

Unilever holds 58.4 per cent of 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 strategic partnership might lead to Unilever Ghana losing up to 70 per cent of crude palm oil requirement that the plantations currently supply and this needs to be secured via a supply agreement with the partner or buyer.

Besides, the plantations’ contribution to Unilever Ghana’s profit through dividends could 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 that will 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 in Malaysia, 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.

Source: GNA

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