Felda soars on first day of trading
Felda soars on first day of trading

Shares in Malaysian palm oil giant Felda have soared on their first day of trading.

The state-backed Malaysian company on Thursday completed the world's second biggest IPO this year after Facebook. The share price was up 20 per cent at one stage in the morning.

It hit a high of 5.46 ringgit ($A1.70) shortly after listing on the main board of Bursa Malaysia, up from its initial public offering price of 4.55 ringgit. It eased to 5.29 ringgit at the end of the morning session.

Felda raised around 10 billion ringgit in the IPO, the largest in Asia this year.

A volatile global economy has led to the shelving of several major IPOs in Asia.

Felda's IPO was supported by 12 institutional investors including Qatar Investment and French agribusiness giant Louis Dreyfus.

The IPO had met resistance from thousands of ethnic Malay farmers, who partly own the company and feared they would lose out.

Its strong debut was expected to help quell concerns and boost Prime Minister Najib Razak in an election expected this year.

Felda was set up by the government in the 1950s as part of a rural development plan to alleviate poverty by giving poor Malays land to grow cash crops, mainly palm oil and rubber.

Najib has assured the farmers that the listing would be profitable for them, and promised a 1.68 billion ringgit windfall for the farmers and their families. Felda has also allocated 20 per cent of its shares to a trust fund for the farmers, who will receive annual dividends, officials said.

The farmers are mainly ethnic Malay Muslims, who make up about two-thirds of Malaysia's 28 million people.

The Felda group owns 70 palm oil mills, seven refineries and a string of other manufacturing plants nationwide. It produces about three million tonnes of crude palm oil annually, or about eight per cent of world output.

The West Australian

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