Bernama | 2 February 2011
by Nasriah Hj Darus & Muin Abdul Majid
ABU DHABI, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- Sarawak's Tanjung Manis Halal Hub (TMHH) is expected to attract investments worth an estimated RM650 million from the Middle East with the signing of three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) here on Sunday.
The MoUs were inked between Tanjung Manis Food and Industrial Park Sdn Bhd (Tanjung Manis), the company entrusted with developing the 77,000ha hub, and Perigon Advisory WLL, New York-based Borneo Agriculture and Focus International.
The deals were reached during the inaugural investment mission of the Sarawak government, led by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud to Abu Dhabi.
The mission, aimed at wooing Gulf investors to TMHH, one of the state's largest development initiatives, was in conjunction with the "Invest Malaysia 2011" forum where Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak presented a compelling case for Gulf businessmen to choose Malaysia as an investment destination.
The first MoU was signed between Tanjung Manis, represented by executive chairman Datuk Norah Tun Abdul Rahman, and Perigon Advisory WLL, a company poised to launch a unique initiative -- a RM3 billion food and agribusiness fund -- with the objective of promoting food security as well as generating commercial returns for its investors.
Norah told Bernama that under the MoU, the parties would, among others, identify suitable areas for collaboration and potential investment in agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture, as well as other business opportunities in TMHH aimed at promoting food security in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries.
Perigon managing partner Adeeb Ahmad described TMHH as a unique and "most opportune" initiative considering that food security was a global issue that needed the highest level of attention by all stakeholders, especially those in the OIC region.
He said Perigon's decision to collaborate with TMHH was based on strategic reasons, against the backdrop of Sarawak's natural resources and the state's progressive approach, combined with private capital and expertise that would be an ideal platform to make significant contributions to food security among OIC member states.
Norah said both parties were also studying the option of coinvesting in the setting up of a sovereign wealth fund focused on food security investments -- an initiative that portrays the state's commitment to halal agriculture and aquaculture ventures in its bid to help ensure sustainability.
Najib, Mubadala Development Company chief executive Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak and Abdul Taib witnessed the exchange of MoUs between the parties involved at the opening of Invest Malaysia 2011.
Tanjung Manis' second MoU, with Borneo Agriculture, will focus on investment advisory and agriculture development in the halal hub, as well as to assist with the formation and management of capital vehicles to fund an initial RM1.5 billion for the first stage of development.
Areas of cooperation include to structure funds on various investments and strategic initiatives and to work towards identifying institutional and private investors for the agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, food processing, green and renewable energy sectors, as well as other business opportunities in the project.
Norah said the third MoU, with United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Focus International, involved possible efforts to enhance the profile of TMHH in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and to assist in securing long-term investors, as well as research activities.
Under the MoU, Focus International is tasked with developing and executing public relations, events and media strategies throughout the Gulf region with regards to the TMHH project. Focus International will also act as TMHH's representative in the UAE.
"TMHH is the answer to problems faced by some GCC nations, by addressing food price inflation issues through cost competitiveness and competitive advantages that are apparent along the food security value chain in Sarawak. The spin-offs from the development would include job creation, increased income per capita, infrastructure development and connectivity, as well as additional business opportunities that would present itself to residents of Tanjung Manis and Sarawak," Norah said.
TMHH foresees a total investment of RM10 billion over the next five years for various infrastructure, development and industry business components from private investors.
Meanwhile, Abdul Taib told the participants of Invest Malaysia that Sarawak aimed to secure RM300 billion worth of investments by 2030 through private and public sector partnerships encompassing development initiatives across the state, including the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy and TMHH.