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(File pix) A total of 94,956 settlers continue to sell their fruits to Felda mills.

FEDERAL Land Development Authority (Felda) will issue a RM2 billion long-term sukuk before the end of the year, which is a sign of confidence among the banking community.

“Three months ago, a local bank approached us. It is now arranging for Felda to issue RM2 billion sukuk before the end of the year. The bank is talking to prospective bondholders.

“This is the turning point for Felda,” said chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, adding that this showed bankers were confident of Felda’s repayment ability.

“Apart from the sukuk, we are also finalising the sale of our hotel in London,” he said at a briefing yesterday.

Three years ago, Felda Investment Corp Sdn Bhd, the investment arm of Felda, acquired Grand Plaza Hotel in the upmarket Kensington area.

Shahrir likened the hotel sale to monetising non-core assets of Felda.

“The hotel is like a Rolls Royce, a status symbol for Felda. It is just sitting pretty and not generating direct benefit to settlers. We hope to realise it and bring back some RM500 million to strengthen our cash flow, working capital and retire some of our short-term loans,” he said.

Earlier in the year, Felda also made some money when it sold its two per cent stake in Malayan Banking Bhd to the bank for RM280 million.

“As we consolidate our financials, we should be in the positive zone by the end of the year.”

He also noted that sentiment among the settlers had improved considerably.

Shahrir had initiated the “Consensus Movement” (Gerakan Muafakat) to forge better understanding among the Felda community.

“Through such channels, we are able to correct the misunderstandings and wrongful allegations of non-payment of incentives payable to eligible settlers announced two months ago.

“We’re optimising existing platforms such as Malaysian Palm Oil Board replanting incentives and partnering Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd to help settlers,” he said.

Of the original 112,635 settlers, Shahrir said 94,956, or 84 per cent, had continued to sell their fruits to Felda mills.

“Through this ‘Consensus Movement’ and several administrative amendments, we have managed to regain the trust of those who had exited the system. Some of them want to come back and sell their fruits to our mills.

“The ultimate aim is to welcome back as many as those who had exited the system so that we can be one big Felda family again. By the first quarter of next year, I am hopeful of the 6,364 settlers who had left will come back and our settlers will total 101,320,” he added.

On palm oil prices, which are trading at around RM2,800 per tonne, Shahrir hopes prices would firm up.

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