Rainforest NGOs launch campaign against Samling stock exchange listing

Rainforest NGOs launch campaign against Samling stock exchange listing

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February 25, 2007

Rainforest NGOs launch campaign against Samling stock exchange listing
February 25, 2007

A number of NGOs concerned with the conservation of tropical rainforests and the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights have launched a campaign against the public listing of the Malaysian Samling group.

Samling is a logging corporation based in the Malaysian state of Sarawak and owned by the Yaw family. It operates on a total of some 3.4 million hectares of natural forests and 470’000 hectares of plantations. Samling has a poor environmental and social record in its countries of operation, which include Malaysia, Guyana, China and New Zealand.

The Yaw family has also left behind a trail of destruction in the forests of Cambodia and Papua New Guinea where its bulldozers have been operating until a few years ago.

The campaign’s main targets are the international banks involved in the logging giant’s listing, in the first place Credit Suisse, which acts as the global coordinator for the listing at the Hong Kong stock exchange. By going public, Samling Global Ltd., incorporated in Bermuda, expects to raise 280 Million US Dollars. It is feared that the public listing of Samling will increase the pace of destruction of tropical rainforests in the Samling concessions due to the new investors’ pressure for share performance.

On Friday 23 February, friends of Bruno Manser, the missing Swiss rainforest conservationist, started off the campaign with a protest march in Zurich. They carried a carved memorial tree for Manser to the Credit Suisse headquarters in Switzerland’s financial center. Manser, who fought for the rights of the Penan people living in the Borneo rainforests, was last seen in a Samling concession in the Malaysian state of Sarawak in May 2000.

On the occasion of a meeting with the bank, Credit Suisse officials were given more than 4500 signatures against the bank’s involvement in the Samling listing. However, Chief Risk Officer Tobias Guldimann, who is also a member of the Credit Suisse Group Executive Board, stated that Credit Suisse would continue its coordination of the Samling public listing despite the NGOs’ concerns.

On the same day, UK-based Forest Peoples Programme published a letter to the HSBC Holdings’ Group Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan. HSBC is a joint bookrunner of the Samling listing together with Credit Suisse and Macquarie Securities Ltd. The letter, which has been endorsed by NGOs from Malaysia, Japan, Germany, Norway and Switzerland, states that HSBC’s participation in the Samling listing is a breach of the bank’s guidelines:

“HSBC’s support for the Samling listing is in direct contravention of HSBC’s forest sector guidelines and the Equator principles to which HSBC is a signatory as it provides expansion potential to a company with a track record of disregard for sustainable forest management principles and fundamental human rights violations.” The bank has not yet responded to the letter or made any other public statement on its involvement in the Samling listing.

The involved NGOs warn potential investors not to purchase Samling shares for the corporation’s lack to comply with basic social and environmental standards. Due to the increasing environmental damage, the depletion of forest resources and the unresolved landrights issue in Sarawak, it is also very doubtful if investments into Samling will yield the expected financial returns.

Bruno Manser Fonds
Heuberg 25
4051 Basel / Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74


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