• Hong Kong’s First Pacific may buy 30% of SL Agritech

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    Talavera, Nueva Ecija: SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) is now in talks over the possible sale of a 30 percent stake to Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., headed by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, said SLAC Chairman and President Henry Lim Bon Liong.

    “We have signed an [initial]agreement with the MVP Group . . . we are open to selling them about 30 percent of our company,” he said.

    The potential equity stake sale may prompt SLAC to abandon its plan to list in the local stock market.

    Michelle Lim-Gankee, assistant to the SLAC chairman, said a partnership with First Pacific is a “calculated risk”, but it will help bankroll the production of SLAC’s hybrid rice seeds and premium rice varieties.

    Under the planned joint venture, SL Agritech will provide technical assistance and supply hybrid rice seeds for use in large-scale farming, she said.

    She noted, however, that SLAC is still having difficulties securing large tracts of land in the Philippines.

    The company earlier said that it wants to expand to 800,000 hectares over the next five years from 150,000 hectares today the size of land that it is planting with its hybrid rice varieties. It has developed a new hybrid rice variety SL-18 which has a better yield than SL-8.

    Lim earlier said that they are considering Indonesia as a viable location for a commercial rice production joint venture as both First Pacific (through Indofood) and SL Agritech already have a presence there.

    He said Indonesia is well known for producing palm oil, but it also has a big potential for rice production.

    Incorporated in 2000, SL Agritech seeks to become the country’s leading proponent of hybrid rice farming technology and industry model for sound farm management practices.

    Founded by the Lim family, the business started as a rice research unit of Sterling Paper Enterprise.

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