The success of Malaysia's leading oil palm plantation company, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), should not be evaluated based merely on its financial performance.
Chairperson Mohd Isa Abdul Samad said it should be viewed from bigger aspects such as an improvement to existing operations, long term investments, the strengthening of human capital and corporate social responsibility.
He said if seen holistically since FGV was listed in 2012, a lot of achievements had been recorded by the company, among them, an increase in the non-leased land, production of various world class planting material through research and development and establishing the crude palm oil trade division supported by assets.
To date, FGV has increased its non-leased land to 45,000ha in Sarawak, Sabah and Kalimantan (Indonesia).
In addition, Isa said FGV had also expanded operations to overseas, enhanced renewable energy production, developed human capital and improved plantation operations as well as that of its plants.
"FGV is now the largest producer of crude palm oil, the biggest operator globally of the bulk storage of edible oil, the world's third largest operator of oil palm plantations, the biggest Malaysian producer of refined sugar and many more strengths in the business network chain it possesses," he told Bernama.
Mohd Isa said from the aspect of financial performance, FGV posted a decline since its listing due to the movement of global palm oil prices, the profile of its ageing trees, aggressive replanting process, fluctuating global crude oil prices and weak biodiesel demand.
The price of raw sugar globally also had an indirect impact on FGV through its 51 percent-owned subsidiary, MSM Holdings Bhd.
"In other non-financial matters, FGV has seen sufficiently good changes. This basic strengthening will indirectly build a more sustainable company in the future," he added.
On the FGV shares, Mohd Isa said the price at present is much lower when compared to the listing due to the influence of weak market sentiment, resulting from the actions of certain parties politicising issues related to the company.
"The issues caused FGV shares to become unstable compared to other plantation companies in Malaysia," he added.
He said FGV was also often the focus of certain parties as it had ties to the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) with both chaired by him previously.
"It is still the perception of the community that FGV is a company under Felda. Misunderstandings frequently happened in connecting FGV with any activities undertaken by Felda.
"This perception caused Felda's issues to be related to the performance of FGV," he added.
Mohd Isa said it was not easy for FGV to reach the level it had now. But, the company was constantly the target of certain parties with a negative mindset and always looking for faults to be used for their own self-interest.
"This is unfair to FGV and also to its shareholders," he added.
He said although the perception was hard to overcome fully, it was still important for FGV to always enhance the market's awareness and of the public, that the company was public-listed and managed professionally according to the laws of the land.
"FGV is committed to good corporate governance in its operations. We will ensure that every plan and business decision is made in a transparent manner and understood by shareholders and stakeholders," Isa added.
He said the appointment of Shahrir Abdul Samad as Felda chairperson would in a way help change the public's perception, apart from assisting to differentiate between the two entities.
Focus on improving operations in stages
Meanwhile, Mohd Isa said in in line with his role as FGV chairperson, he would focus more on improving the company's operations this year in stages, starting from the grassroots.
"I will go more frequently to the plantations and plants to meet staff and obtain their feedback. To me, this is important, as they have been FGV's backbone for a long time.
"I am of the opinion that if the problems at the grassroots can be resolved quickly and their voices heard, it would directly help raise morale, and move them to work harder," he added.
He said the staff at the grassroots need to be appreciated as they had vast experience, having been with the company for a long time.
"For sure they have suggestions and views to be shared with the management," Isa added.