May 16, 2020 / 1:52 PM / 11 days ago

Liberia's largest palm oil project lays off 10% of workforce

MONVROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia’s largest palm oil company, Golden Veroleum, has laid off 443 employees, more than 10% of its workforce, due to persistently low prices and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, a company spokesman said on Saturday.

Golden Veroleum is owned by the U.S.-based Verdant Fund LP, whose sole investor is Singapore-listed palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources (GAGR.SI), the world’s second-largest palm oil plantation company.

Golden Veroleum spokesman Alphonso Kofi told Reuters that the staff being laid off included managers.

“Instead of closing down the company, the company has deemed it necessary to reduce the workforce. The previous number (of layoffs) was 1,200 but was trimmed after a series of negotiations with the government,” Kofi said.

Coronavirus-driven lockdowns in many countries sent benchmark crude palm oil to near 10-month lows this week, and industry officials warned that producers could be forced to make painful cost cuts.

Reporting by James Giahyeu; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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