Malaysia-based Sime Darby Plantation Berhad has sold its 52% interest in Singapore-based Verdant Bioscience (VBS) to Ackermans & van Haaren and SIPEF, SIPEF announced on 29 May.

Ackermans & van Haaren acquired a 42% stake in VBS for US$7M and SIPEF increased its stake by 10% to 48% for US$1.7M. Singapore-based BioSing, which established VBS, maintained its 10% share.

Set up in 2013 to advance the development of high-yielding F1 hybrid oil palm, SIPEF said it was on track to commercialise the first fully tested F1 hybrid oil palm seed in 2028.

“A commercial F1 hybrid oil palm will possess hybrid vigour, which will drive yield upwards,” SIPEF said. “It will also be genetically uniform, which offers other significant advantages. In other crops such as corn, the use of F1 hybrid seed has led to massive yield improvements worldwide.”

In the meantime, VBS is selling its semi-clonal palm oil seed (Verdant Select), grown on its Timbang Deli plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia.

Ackermans & van Haaren viewed the acquisition as a long-term investment in line with its 34.68% interest in SIPEF.

“VBS gives us direct access to top quality palm oil seed that has a higher yield per hectare and that will allow us to respond to the growing demand for vegetable oil without a proportionate increase in farmland acreage,” SIPEF said.

SIPEF is a Belgian agro-industry group specialising in the sustainable production of tropical agricultural commodities, primarily crude palm oil and palm products, and operates in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Ivory Coast.

Belgian-based Ackermans & van Haaren is active in a number of key sectors, including energy and resources.