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FT’s Kevin Brown echoes some of the points we made regarding crude palm oil and specifically the fundamentals underlying the case for a secular bull market ahead.  That said, he writes, while margins are fat at the moment for producers like Siam Darby and Golden Agri-Resources–the world’s first and second biggest listed producers respectively–given spot prices, production costs may be set to soar in the coming years as an increasing lack of plantable land in both Malaysia and Indonesia is leading to another bout of African land and resource grab–“not suprising since the Asian industry got its start by importing plants from Africa back in the 1960s”–in which development costs will increase.  Nevertheless expect Siam’s talks with Cameroon (a country that has explicitly made palm oil production and research an investment priority) to ultimately succeed, while Golden Agri, fresh off its Liberian-deal last fall, will likely continue expansion as [African] governments are “eager for export revenues and jobs for unemployed workers.”  But how this all factors into equity risk premiums is another matter.   Meanwhile, a piece today touches on the same, broad theme, as US buy-out giant Carlyle is set to launch a $750m Africa fund, though in fairness the group’s co-founder and managing director (and former Jimmy Carter-adviser) David Rubenstein has been an African-bull for some time now.  “The majority of Americans don’t pay enough attention to Africa,” one source close to Carlyle said. “It has been China that has been the catalyst for economic activity in Africa.”  Rubenstein, by the way, is still long-term positive on his firm’s MENA investments, including presumably last year’s foray into Saudi Arabia.

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