Don Weinland and Tom Brennan
Lion Forest Industries Berhad will seek to acquire a 9,995 hectare concession in Cambodia, the latest in a number of Malaysian firms eyeing the Kingdom to increase land banks this year.
The firm aims to cultivate rubber and palm oil on the proposed concession in Preah Vihear province, with a total investment of 11.77 million ringgit (US$3.9 million), according to a filing on the Bursa Malaysia late on Wednesday.
Lion Forest halted its operations in Malaysia and China and is seeking to tap into a new core business and diversify its earnings stream, the statement said.
“For investors looking to grow and process crops, Cambodia is an ideal location as it has plenty of land available for agricultural concessions,” it said.
Lion Forest joins a number of prominent Malaysian companies that have recently sought to acquire land concessions in the Kingdom. In January, Top Glove Bhd, the world’s largest rubber glove maker, announced plans to invest 160 million ringgit in rubber trees in Cambodia.
Other Malaysian companies such as Golden Land Bhd and Federal Land Development Authority have announced their intentions to apply for concessions since the beginning of the year, with Golden Land targeting two concessions in Koh Kong province.
Maybank Cambodia Country Head Jubely Pa wrote that the recent increase in Malaysian land acquisitions in the Kingdom is tied to its pro-business attitude.
“Cambodia is one of the most attractive business and investment destinations currently, given its location, market size, market-friendly policies and competitive business environment,” he said.
While potential for vast agricultural cultivation coupled with incentives from the Cambodian government have added to investor interest, the Malaysian government has also encouraged Malaysian companies to invest in ASEAN countries, he said.
He added regional investment will further integrate ASEAN economies.
Maybank began operating in the Kingdom in 1993, and has expanded to 10 branches in line with its vision to become a regional financial services leader.
The firm, the largest in Malaysia’s financial services sector, maintains a positive outlook on investment opportunities in Cambodia.
“Among the opportunities that appear most attractive include the manufacturing, agricultural, infrastructure development and general commerce and services industries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Top Glove declined to comment on its plans for the Cambodian concessions.
Other companies did not respond to interview requests or could not be immediately reached for comment.