The era of the discoveries brought the people of
Western Europe face to face with the ancient cultures of the
old world. Perhaps it is a legacy of those events, strengthened
by an inherent urge of much greater antiquity that moved men
of talent and initiative to seek the wonders of the East.
During the year 1885, the founder of United Plantations, Mr. Aage Westenholz
left Denmark for the Kingdom of Siam upon graduation as a civil engineer.
Mr. Westenholz, who had served in the Danish Army as an Artillery Officer,
joined the Siamese Forces together with other Danes living in Bangkok when
a French Navy Force tried to subdue the Siamese, shortly after his arrival
The French Navy Group was forced to retreat due to the fierce
resistance. As a consequence, the Danes won much goodwill from
H.R.H. the King of Siam and the Siamese people. Mr Westenholz
and others were given concessions to supply electricity to
Bangkok by the creation of a company called Siam Electric.
This in turn caused Bangkok to have a tramway system before
it was introduced in Copenhagen. The East Asiatic Company was
given the concession of the teak wood extraction and rice export
from Siam. A Danish naval officer, Commander Richelieu, was
promoted to Commander in Chief of the Siamese Navy.
These were the early days of the great economic advance of
the West. Around the turn of the century, the rubber industry
was in its infancy and interest in rubber planting in Malaya
In 1906, Mr. Westenholz found the opportunity to realize a plan close to his
heart and the Jendarata Rubber Estate of 809 hectares was established in Lower
Perak, near Teluk Anson. This initial plantation venture in Malaya, the Jenderata
Rubber Company, was followed some years later by the establishment of Corner,
Raja Una and Westenholz Brothers Coconut Estates on the Selangor Bank of
the Bernam River, opposite to Hutan Melintang. Finally during 1917, all were
merged into United Plantations Limited.
Mr. Westenholz retired in 1911 and was succeeded in Bangkok by his younger
cousin, Commander William Lennart Grut, who likewise elected to spend his
working life in the East in preference to a naval career in Baltic waters.
In view of the successful planting of 8 hectares of oil palm at Sungei Bernam
Estate during 1918, Commander Grut was delighted to meet with a Dutchman,
Mr. Blumendall when he returned from leave in Europe. Mr. Blumendall managed
to awaken Commander Grut's interest in oil palms, wherefore Mr. Blumendall
was appointed Planting Advisor when Commander Grut acquired 2,428 hectares situated
60 kilometers, up the Bernam River, which in turn made Commander Grut the
founder of Bernam Oil Palms, one of the pioneers of the Malaysian Palm Oil
Industry, which coincided with Guthrie's and Socfin's venture into the cultivation
of oil palms.
Listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange on the 28th February 1932.
It was Tan Sri Dato' Seri B. Bek- Nielsen's privilege to be employed by Bernam
Oil Palms Ltd. as an Assistant Engineer during 1951 - at the height of the
Emergency. Tan Sri Dato' Seri B. Bek- Nielsen was posted at the Ulu Bernam
Oil Mill, which is 60 kilometers up the Bernam River, totally surrounded
by jungle. Security protection was then provided by the British and Malayan army
During 1966, United Plantations Ltd. and Bernam Oil Palms Ltd. were amalgamated
into United Plantations Berhad.
Listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) Main Board on the 8th October 1969.
United Plantations Berhad was sold to Kumpulan Fima under the New Economic
Policy and Malaysianisation process. Danish shareholders kept 25% of the
Approx. 4,047 hectares of plantation land were acquired which resulted in United
Plantation’s acreage reaching approx. 27,519 hectares.
The Danish group Aarhus Oliefabrik (now AarhusKarlshamn AB), a leader in the
global speciality fat complex, acquired Kumpulan Fima’s controlling
stake in United Plantations and emerged as the major shareholder.
The acquisition of United International Enterprises (M) Bhd, 10,522 hectares of
plantation, on 25th March 2003 resulting in UP’s land bulk reaching
approx. 38,041 hectares.
Socfin’s Lima Blas Estate was successfully acquired by United Plantations
Berhad which brought the Company’s total land bulk to 40,874 hectares and
has thereby become one of the key players in the Malaysian palm oil industry.
On 25th April 2006 UP announced the acquisition of 2 Indonesian
plantation companies, namely: PT. Surya Sawit Sejati and PT.
Mirza Pratama Putra. Upon the acquisition, the Company will
have access to approximately 30,000 hectares of land in Indonesia.
The land will be developed over the next 6 to 7 years.
On 27th April 2007 UP announced that it had entered into a new Conditional Master Agreement with the shareholders of PT Surya Sawit Sejati and the existing shareholders of PT Sawit Seberang Seberang which will, upon completion, result in the Group having access to approximately 40,000 hectares of plantation land in Indonesia.
The acquisition of PT Sawit Seberang Seberang was completed on 6 November 2009. The Group has decided to moderate its expansion in Indonesia and focus on completing and consolidating the first phase of development. Upon completion of the first phase, about 10,000 hectares of oil palm will have been planted and about 4,000-5,000 hectares of permanent conservation areas established in accordance with the Group's commitment towards conservation. It is envisaged that upon completion of the second development phase, the Group will have a planted area of about 14,000-15,000 hectares in Indonesia, in total.
On 1 August 2012 United Plantations Berhad and Oleon NV announced that they have agreed to form a 50:50 joint venture through the company UniOleon Sdn. Bhd. UniOleon Sdn. Bhd. will develop a food emulsifier plant in two phases which will be built in Pulau Indah (Malaysia). The state-of-the-art factory is expected to start producing food oleo-derivatives early 2014.