Malaysian Tycoon Robert Kuok’s PPB Group Doubles Profit Amid Commodities Boom

PPB Group, controlled by Malaysia’s richest tycoon Robert Kuok, reported that its profit doubled in the first quarter as the Kuala Lumpur-listed conglomerate benefited from robust demand for palm oil and sugar across the region.

Net profit surged to 402.2 million ringgit ($97.2 million) in the first quarter from 187.3 million ringgit a year ago, the company said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia late Friday. The results reflect the robust contribution from PPB’s Singapore-listed agribusiness associate company Wilmar International, which reported record quarterly earnings last month following the strong performance of its plantation and sugar milling businesses.

The strong contribution from Wilmar helped offset losses from PPB’s cinema operations as well as sluggish earnings from the property and construction businesses that have been impacted by government-imposed lockdowns across Malaysia to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wilmar reported last month its highest ever first quarter profit of $450 million. “Wilmar’s performance will continue to contribute substantially to the overall profitability of the group,” PPB said.

Wilmar will continue to benefit from a recovery in the demand for palm oil in China and other major importers such as India, according to DBS Group Research. “Since the stockpile levels of major buyer countries is still relatively low amid recovering consumption and tight supplies, we believe that global demand will bounce back further despite the now firm crude palm oil prices,” it said in a recent research note.

Kuok’s nephew Kuok Khoon Hong cofounded Wilmar in 1991 and built it into one of the world’s biggest palm oil producers. Khoon Hong, 71, who also has interests in real estate, was ranked the 11th richest person in Singapore with a net worth of $3.6 billion in the World’s Billionaires List published in April. His uncle holds a valuable stake in Wilmar.

Business legend Robert Kuok, 97, remains the wealthiest person in Malaysia, a position he has held for the past two decades. With a net worth of $12.3 billion, he has interests in hotels, real estate and shipping. His youngest son Kuok Khoon Hua is CEO and vice chairman of Hong Kong developer Kerry Properties.

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