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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 21) –WR Carpenters Group will invest up to PGK200 million [US$71 million] over the next three years expanding their operations in Papua New Guinea.

This will among others include the construction of a new headquarters in Port Moresby and open up new Daltron sales and retail offices in Lae, Morobe Province and also in the Highlands region.

Daltron also sees itself expanding to the Solomon Islands soon. The expansion program will see the company creating 1,000 new jobs, which Papua New Guineans will be given priority for employment. Company managing director Hugh Laird and parent company MBf Holdings Berhad managing director Datuk Dr. Mogan Lourdenadin said on Friday that the way the country was managed recently by the Government had helped the company in its expansion efforts.

Dr. Lourdenadin said WR Carpenters had become a largest trading company in the Pacific region and the company would build on its trading and agriculture investments as well as look at other investment opportunities such as in the shipping area. He said after the company bought off Courts (PNG) Limited, they would build Courts to provide expanded credit facilities using the MBf Mastercard offered by the parent company in Malaysia.

"The time is right for us to look at other investment opportunities such as shipping," Dr. Lourdenadin told the Post-Courier on Friday. "We have a very good future in Papua New Guinea as well as the Pacific region." He said when MBf Holdings Berhad first came into PNG in 2002, everyone was talking about leaving the country as the economy was not good.

"Life then was very tough and everyone was selling their assets," he said. "Well now, after five years and our confidence then in the country is helping our businesses to grow. "We will always look at suitable investments." WR Carpenters is also a big trading company in Fiji employing 3000 people.

In PNG it employs 6000 people while in Malaysia the parent company employs 5,000 people. Dr. Lourdenadin said the company had confidence in the local management team and he also said that it was the company policy to ensure that locals were hired at management positions in the countries they operated in. Of the PNG employees, less than 1 percent are expatriates.

August 22, 2006

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