A great day at UP… celebrating 100 years

While the workers were impressed and honoured when she greeted them, HRH Princess Benedikte of Denmark herself seemed equally amazed with the advancements at the plantation of United Plantations Berhad (UP) since her last visit in 1998. 
She was accompanied by Danish ambassador to Malaysia HE Borge Petersen, Danish ambassador to Iceland HE Lasse Reimann, UP Chairman Tan Sri Dr Johari Mat, Senior Executive Director Ho Dua Tiam, Vice-chairman and Executive Director (corporate affairs) Carl Bek-Nielsen and Executive Director (finance and marketing) Martin Bek-Nielsen plus a number of senior executives and workers on a tour of the plantation. 
Princess Benedikte toured the estate and also launched four new technologies for higher product yield and commissioned the company’s new bio-energy facilities. These facilities are expected to slash the energy costs at the palm oil refinery with a 40%. 
The princess furthermore presented 16 long-serving employees with keys to their new homes in a nearby housing area named after her: Taman Benedikte.
UP Chairman Tan Sri Dr Johari Mat, in his welcome address, said the occasion was a historic one for the company and the UP family. 
“The will to succeed and the close cooperation between Malaysian and Danish expertise have seen UP being recognised for its high standards, high yields and a high standard of efficiency,” he said. 
“UP has always provided the best quarters for employees, good schools for their children, an old folks home and a Danish bakery on the plantation. The company will also in future continue with the culture of ploughing back profits into Malaysia”, the Chairman added.
In his speech UP Vice-chairman and Executive Director (corporate affairs) Carl Bek-Nielsen said the centenary celebration was being held at the very spot that the story of UP began 100 years ago. 
“The key ingredients of our success is our people who are loyal, enthusiastic, innovative and with a sense of belonging and purpose. You and everyone here are instrumental in forming the high standards that we have today,” he said to the crowd of approx. 200 people gathered for the day events of the celebrations. He also emphasized that the company’s policy of human compassion and welfare, including its sustainable practices with the environment, was important to UP. 
If the day was grand, the evening was even grander with a gala dinner presided over by The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, and Princess Benedikte of Denmark. The dinner was hosted in a large tent erected for the occasion on one of the football grounds of the estate in Teluk Intan. More than a 1,000 dignitories, industry VIPs, UP seniors, business contacts and friends from near and far enjoyed a happy evening which included speeches as well as lighter entertainment by a dance troupe and a Malaysian band. Main shareholders and Executive Directors Carl Bek-Nielsen and Martin Bek-Nielsen took the audience through the UP Saga from 1906 to present times via a short movie prepared for the grand occasion.… it was an exciting journey through the history of this well-known estate and business.
United Plantations Berhad (UP) has indeed come a long way since its foundation by Svend Aage Westenholtz, a Danish Artillery Officer and Entrepreneur, starting out with 1,804 acres of land for cultivation of rubber in Lower Perak, Malaya in 1906. Today on its 100th anniversary the United Plantations Group owns and manages 101,000 acres of oil palm and coconut plantations in Malaysia as well as 70,000 acres of land in Indonesia.
UP is now one of the major plantation groups in Malaysia listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Malaysia (Bursa Malaysia) and on the Danish Stock Exchange with its core business being cultivation and processing of oil palm and coconut. 
The company which employs 6,500 people has been experiencing a significant growth in the last few years. The management believe that it will not only enhance the company’s earnings in the coming years but also ensure that it will remain as well as continue growth in terms of leadership and commitment towards being the most efficient plantation company in the world measured by oil yield per hectare. The controlling shareholders of UP, the Bek-Nielsen brothers, and the management are intent on making their own mark on a truly grand history whilst not forgetting the achievements and intentions of past great leaders including founder Westenholtz, ex-chairman Grut who was leading the company during many years and not least the well-known and much admired front figure Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Bek-Nielsen who passed away in September 2005.
It appears evident that the late Bek-Nielsen sons, Carl and Martin Bek-Nielsen have already proved themselves as worthy successors to continue past traditions and visions at United Plantations Berhad now celebrating its 100th anniversary.

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