| KUALA LUMPUR, July 8
KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 Malaysia's state-owned
agri-business conglomerate FELDA is looking to tap growing
demand for botanical drugs and treatments with a planned $300
million listing of a life sciences unit on the Nasdaq exchange
by March, company officials said.
Felda Wellness Corp (IPO-FWCP.O), a unit of the Federal Land
Development Authority of Malaysia (FELDA), has chosen to list on
the U.S. market for technology and biotech companies because of
the country's well developed market for health products and U.S.
investors' familiarity with such offerings, they said.
Only one other Malaysian company has announced a Nasdaq
listing - MOL Global Pte Ltd (IPO-MOLL.O), an online payment
firm that also owns social networking site Friendster Inc. MOL
plans to raise $300 million from its U.S. IPO scheduled for this
"We believe that the Nasdaq and American investing community
are very life sciences-friendly," FELDA's deputy
director-general Muhammad Sufi Mahbub told Reuters. "We should
be able to secure better value on the Nasdaq than in any other
Felda Wellness has been working with a New York-based
investment bank with expertise in raising funds for life
sciences companies in the United States. Bankers to advise on
the deal will be chosen in September after the listing is
approved by the FELDA board.
The firm will launch its health products into Malaysian
markets by August this year, followed by the U.S., South Korea
and Australia markets in January 2015, and in Indonesia by March
The company will use herbal plants available in Malaysia,
and also exploit the therapeutic potential of palm oil produced
by its parent to develop "neutraceuticals" - food and healthcare
products that provide medical benefits.
FELDA's listed plantation arm, Felda Global Ventures
, is the world's third-largest oil palm estate
"The global population will always look for an alternative
option which has less side-effects. This is the vacuum we are
trying to fill," Muhammad Sufi said. "We should be able to get
good market attention from the U.S. market."
It is seeking approval for its products from the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration by this year, and aims to reap sales of
$20-30 million in its non-Malaysian markets in 2015.
The products will be marketed in the form of lotions, gels,
sachet drinks, and cosmetics.
The global neutraceuticals market, largely dominated by the
U.S., topped $140 billion in 2011 and is slated to grow to more
than $200 billion by 2017.
"We want to explore the various plants in the Malaysian
biodiversity chain and value-add them into super
neutraceuticals," said Felda Wellness chief executive officer
Mohd Nasir Shafion.
($1 = 3.177 Malaysian ringgit)
(Reporting By Anuradha Raghu; Editing by Stuart Grudgings and