KLK traces its history back to 1906, when the Kuala Lumpur Rubber Company Limited (KLR) was incorporated in London. It was set up to plant rubber around Kuala Lumpur to capitalise on the booming rubber price brought about by the introduction of the modern motor-car and pneumatic rubber tyres as replacement for horse-drawn carriages in the US. KLR successfully acquired 5 estates totalling 640 hectares of land in Kuala Lumpur which was used for plantation, with mainly rubber and coffee.
Between 1959 to 1961, KLR acquired the Kepong (Malay) Rubber Estates Ltd., along with other plantation companies and was renamed to Kuala Lumpur-Kepong Amalgamated Limited (KLKA) in 1960 with approximately 30,000 hectares in holdings. Diversification into oil palms was started as a replacement for the old rubber beginning from 1962.
In the event of the racial feud during 13 May 1969, KLKA’s shares like many others suffered a severe drop. Following the aftermath of the event, Lee Loy Seng (later honoured as Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Lee Loy Seng), the son of a tin-miner from Ipoh acquired a block of KLKA shares. As he became the central control, management and principal business operations of KLKA, it was then transferred to Malaysia during 1970. It was in 1973 that KLKA made a transition to Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) under the Scheme of Reconstruction, helmed by Lee Loy Seng with the appointment as the Founder Chairman.
Even as the plantations operations picked up pace, we saw it fit to begin diversifying our business to cushion the effects of fluctuating commodity prices. Hence the 1990s was also marked by new ventures, mainly in resource-based manufacturing and retail through the acquisition of Crabtree and Evelyn. Property development became another key business, when the group launched the Desa Coalfields
residential and commercial property project in Sungai Buloh, Selangor.
Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng, the Founder Chairman of KLK passed away late 1993 after a short illness. Lee Oi Hian (later honoured as Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian) was appointed to succeed him, and he continued to build on the diversification programmes launched earlier, whilst at the same time exploring opportunities for expansion of plantation development overseas.
KLK made a landmark decision to invest in Indonesia in 1994, when we secured plantation land in Belitung Island, and later ventured into Riau, Sumatera Utara and Kalimantan. KLK’s investment in Indonesia is set to expand further with the setting up of its first oleochemical plant in Dumai. KLK’s Indonesian operations are now a major contributor to the Group’s profits. Today, KLK is amongst the top-performing plantation companies in the country, with its plantations located in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Group’s manufacturing operations expanded globally through joint-ventures and acquisitions. The Property Division had jointly developed the prestigious Sierramas, completed the development of the residential and commercial property project of Desa Coalfields and has embarked on the latest township of Bandar Seri Coalfields. KLK is acknowledged by the corporate world as one of the blue chip companies with a reputation for sturdy management, strong earnings with interest in various industries the world over.
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