Monday, April 26, 2010

Palm oil players taking the sustainability route to IPO

Palm oil producers seem to have started recognising the reputational benefit of sustainability. You know this when their Initial Public Offering (offering shares to public in order to get listed on a stock exchange) advertisement mentions their commitment to sustainability.

Global Palm Resources Holdings Limited, a little known palm oil company with operations in Indonesia, has taken out IPO advertisements in newspapers as it seeks listing on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

The IPO ad has a banner headline which reads: "Benefiting People and the Planet." Then the body text has two main parts: "Investment highlights, and Our Environment Policy."

The environment policy section states that the company adopts a zero burning policy in clearing land for planting, it's moving toward zero waste management, has proposed co-composting method of treating empty palm fruit bunches and the mill effluent to reduce methane emission, and has applied for membership to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Their website has a CSR link which tells you that the company has applied for membership to RSPO on 11 March 2010. Now that is about six weeks before their IPO opened for sale on the 22nd April.

A press release from the company on the IPO has this headline: "Global Palm Resources Holdings Limited, a palm oil producer with a focus on environment and community,to list on SGX Main Board"

However, the company does not mention if its CSR claims are substantiated by any independent audit, verification or certification, or if there is any endorsement by respectable stakeholders or NGOs.

The company says it plans to double the size of palm plantations with the money raised from the IPO.

Elsewhere, Greenpeace activists dressed as Orang-utans descended on Nestle annual general meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, protesting against the chocolate-maker's alleged role in the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests by not committing to buying palm oil from sustainable sources.

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