In Malaysia, shares of the world’s third largest palm oil plantations operator will be traded for the first time on Thursday. More than a million so-called ‘settlers’ were given land by the Federal Land Development Authority or FELDA to farm cash crops beginning in the 1950s, in a kind of grand corporate social responsibility operation. But Felda is now selling shares in other commercial plantations it owns, which cover more than 400 thousand hectares of land. The flotation is set to raise $3 billion dollars for the parent company. While the settlers own will not be sold – they’ll even get a $5 thousand US dollar voluntary payout from Felda, – what worries them is what happens after the business is privatised. Some say the sale is an election ploy. There’s concern too about how profitable the company can be when more than half its trees are more than 20 years old.
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