Clifford Chance, Christopher & Lee Ong and Leahy Lewin Sullivan are advising Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby on its proposed $1.74 billion acquisition of New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL), which is being advised by Ashurst.

Sime Darby’s offer is part of its strategy to add high-yielding plantations that can immediately boost its earnings since the acquisition is expected to give it significant land holdings in Papua New Guinea, and comes at a time when top palm oil producer Indonesia is looking to cap foreign ownership of plantations to 30 percent from a current 95 percent limit.

Clifford Chance is advising Sime Darby on the international aspects of the transaction, led by Singapore corporate partner Lee Taylor. Additional support is being provided by corporate partner Lee Coney and antitrust partner Jenine Hulsmann in London.

Christopher & Lee Ong and Leahy Lewin Lowing Sullivan Lawyers are Sime Darby’s Malaysia and Papua New Guinea legal counsel, respectively.

Ashurst is advising NBPOL on the proposed deal, led by corporate partnesr Tim Glenn, Murray Wheater and Karen Davies in Port Moresby, Sydney and London, respectively.

Sime Darby and NBPOL’s combined landbank will reach almost a million hectares, up from Sime Darby’s current holdings of 864,141 hectares spread across Malaysia, Indonesia and Liberia.

Nearly two-thirds or 80,000 hectares of NBPOL's existing landbank of 135,000 hectares, most of which is in Papua New Guinea, is already planted with oil palm.

The firm’s two refineries in the United Kingdom and Papua New Guinea would boost Sime Darby Plantation's total refining capacity by 300,000 tonnes to 4.05 million tonnes.

Sime Darby will use cash to fund 20 percent of the NBPOL deal, which is expected to be completed by end-December, with the remainder to be sourced externally.

Sime Darby will seek to delist NBPOL from the London Stock Exchange. Group CEO Bakke said the firm was in early stages of exploring a secondary NBPOL listing in Malaysia or Singapore. NBPOL's primary listing in Papua New Guinea will be retained.


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