PPB Group, which is controlled by Malaysia’s wealthiest tycoon Robert Kuok, reported a profit increase of more than doubling in the first quarter as the Kuala Lumpur-listed conglomerate benefited from robust demand for palm oil and sugar across the region.
The company reported a net profit of 402.2 million ringgit ($97.2 million) in the first quarter, up from 187.3 million ringgit a year ago in a filing to Bursa Malaysia late Friday. The results reflect the significant contribution of PPB’s Singapore-listed agribusiness associate company Wilmar International, which reported record quarterly earnings last month as a result of the plantation and sugar milling businesses’ strong performance.
Wilmar’s significant contribution helped offset losses from PPB’s cinema operations and sluggish earnings from the company’s property and construction businesses, which have been impacted by government-imposed lockdowns across Malaysia to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Wilmar reported its best-ever first-quarter profit of $450 million last month. “Wilmar’s performance will continue to be a significant contributor to the group’s overall profitability,” PPB stated.
According to DBS Group Research, Wilmar will continue to benefit from a recovery in demand for palm oil in China and other major importers such as India. “Because major buyer countries’ stockpiles remain relatively low in light of recovering consumption and tight supplies, we believe that global demand will continue to recover despite the now-firm crude palm oil prices,” it wrote in a recent research note.
Kuok Khoon Hong, Kuok’s nephew, cofounded Wilmar in 1991 and grew it to become one of the world’s largest palm oil producers. Khoon Hong, 71, who also has real estate interests, was ranked the 11th richest person in Singapore in April’s World’s Billionaires List, with a net worth of $3.6 billion. His uncle owns a significant stake in Wilmar.
Robert Kuok, 97, remains Malaysia’s wealthiest person, a position he has held for two decades. He owns interests in hotels, real estate, and shipping and has a net worth of $12.3 billion. Kuok Khoon Hua, his youngest son, is the CEO and vice chairman of Hong Kong developer Kerry Properties.