2020: A Review: Covid-19 knocks the sail on deals in 2020 but Africa’s food industry remains positive

Deals are the lingo of businesses and the food and beverage industry in Africa had its fair share in 2020. Despite the pandemic, companies found ways to streamline their operations with the clinching of extra funding, acquiring and merging businesses, forming strategic partnerships and in some instances divesting to accelerate growth and create synergies in operations.

By Catherine Wanjiku

January

January started with the government of Rwanda offloading 98.3% shareholding in Burera Diary Limited to African Solutions Private Ltd (Afrisol), a Zimbabwean firm. Burera Diary Ltd was one of three public firms, alongside Nyabihu Potato Company and Rutsiro Honey Ltd, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) had put up for sale in mid-2019. In Tunisia, Maghreb Private Equity Fund IV acquired additional 16.20% stake in Tunisian Cheese maker Land’Or raising its ownership to 21.6% of shares.

In neighbouring Morocco, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, provided US$24 million in financing to the country’s largest apple producer Zalar Agri, to help the company expand its fruit and nut growing operations. On a similar track, German development finance institution DEG granted US$2.2 million to fairafric, a German company specializing in the production and marketing of chocolate bars to establish a chocolate production plant in Ghana, in response to growing demand.

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Meanwhile, Sime Darby Plantation (SDP), a Malaysian oil palm plantation company completed the sale of its entire 100% equity interest in its palm oil concession in Liberia, Sime Darby Plantation Liberia Inc. (SDPL), which had been a continuously loss-making operation to Mano Palm Oil Industries Limited (MPOI).

In Zambia, the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) entered into an equity partnership with Kasama Milling to own 70% shares in the milling company, while in South Africa, the Public Investment Corporation of South Africa, responsible for investing Government Employee Pension Fund, increased its stake in Africa’s largest packaging manufacturer, Nampak to 20.54%.

Further North of Africa, Ezdehar Management, a private equity fund manager through its first fund, the Ezdehar Egypt Mid-Cap Fund acquired an undisclosed stake in Rich Food Industries, a fast-growing manufacturer of convenience foods focused on the animal protein segment in Egypt.

 February

Big news emerged when Nestlé Water Ethiopia, a subsidiary of the Swiss multinational company Nestle, sold back all its 51% share in Great Abyssinia Spring Waters after three years of partnership, exiting the water business in Ethiopia as part of its global water business restructuring plans.

On the other side of the planet, Africa Capitalworks Management, a Sub-Saharan Africa-focused private equity investment company, acquired a significant minority equity shareholding in Gaselia Industries Group, one of the largest home grown beverages groups in West Africa. Founded in 2002 by local entrepreneurs and headquartered in Bamako, Mali, Gaselia has three bottling production and distribution operations, located in Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea-Conakry.

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Another on the trend deal to be announced was Amethis, alongside its partners DEG, MCB Equity Fund and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, acquiring minority equity stake into one of Kenya’s largest retailers Naivas Group, for an undisclosed amount. The capital injection is earmarked for expansion in the highly competitive local supermarket business that has attracted major players from across the globe.

In South Africa the COVID-19 outbreak has impaired some of the transactions, which would have been long finalized. One of such business that is still continuing with sale negotiations is Grand Parade Investments (GPI), who is seeking to offload its Burger King franchise. GPI entered into talks on February 18 2020 to sell its 95.36% stake in Burger King SA for R670m (US$45.9m) and the 100% it holds in Grand Foods Meat Plant for R27m (US$1.85m) to private equity outfit Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) Africa Fund IV. The deal was to be concluded by June 30, but on July 29 GPI announced that the terms of the sale had been renegotiated after Covid-19 wiped off about R100m (US$6.8m) of the unit’s value. Negotiations are still continuing between the parties.

The same fate befell Tongaat Hulett who entered into negotiations for the potential sale of its 100-year-old starch business to the subsidiary of logistics company Barloworld for R5.35billion (US$342.6m) in an effort to reduce its debt and cover on-going operations. Barloworld later on indicated that a material adverse change had occurred in relation to the sale of the starch business due to COVID-19. The sale was finalised later in the year.

Meanwhile, Agri-Vie Fund I, the Africa food and agribusiness investment fund managed by the pan-African private equity investment firm, EXEO Capital, announced its exit from InteliChem, the holding company of Terason and Technichem. The InteliChem Group of companies is a leading provider of crop protection solutions, specialised plant nutrition and seeds to the agricultural industry and related peripherals through its subsidiaries Terason and Technichem.

By way of contrast, Phatisa, through its Food Fund 2, together with Sabvest, Masimong Chemicals and Rolfes management, acquired the entire issued share capital of Rolfes Group, in a public-to-private transaction to unlock new growth opportunities. Established in 1938, Rolfes is a supplier of agricultural, food, industrial and water chemical management solutions and services for both the South African and international markets.

 March

In South Africa, the close of the acquisition of South African food company Pioneer Foods by US giant PepsiCo for US$1.7bn (R25.52bn) made a lot of waves, especially as it showcased the beverage giant’s strong ambition to grow into Africa. First announced in 2019, the transaction was finalized in March 2020 after the Competition Tribunal of South Africa gave it the green light.

Also in the Southern African country, the region’s largest diversified packaging manufacturer, Nampak completed the sale of its glass packaging business to Isanti Glass 1, a local subsidiary of beer maker AB InBev for about R1.5 billion (US$81.3m), to enable it focus on its metals business, which generated more than 60% of the company’s trading profit. Further, Norsad Finance, an impact investor provided a R150 million (US$8.76m) medium-term facility to Grobank, a South African specialised commercial agricultural bank.

In Kenya, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) issued US$4 million to Suguna Poultry Kenya Ltd, subsidiary of India’s multinational Suguna Foods to expand its animal feed and hatcheries business.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) on the other hand signed an agreement with DAL Group, Sudan’s largest foods and agribusiness company, for the provision of up to US$75 million to improve the agribusiness sector, as well as leverage its private sector investments. The agreement was the Bank’s first private-sector loan to the African nation, which has been a pariah state following decades of military rule.

In the same vein, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided a US$5.6 million loan to support the expansion plan of Al Dahra Holding subsidiaries in Morocco, Al Dahra Morocco Factories (ADFAC) and Al Dahra Morocco (ADMO). Al Dahra is an agribusiness firm specializing in the cultivation, production and trading of animal feed and human food commodities such as rice, flour, fruits and vegetables.

 April

April was a relatively quiet month as the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic started to hit home in the region.

However, the month saw global agribusiness company, Cargill appoint Maxim Agri Ltd to be the sole distributor of its animal nutrition products in Kenya to enable shorter lead times and consistent supply to its customers.

With a focus to expand its portfolio, Dutch development bank FMO invested US$25m in African Development Partners III, a pan-African fund managed by Development Partners International (DPI), targeting established and growing consumer-focused companies in the food & agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors.

On the same note, Phatisa Food Fund 2 (PFF 2) and a group of co-investors, Norfund, Mbuyu Capital and DEG acquired Southern African integrated agricultural solutions provider, Farming and Engineering Services Limited (FES) to support the company’s long term growth strategy and expand its successful business model to neighbouring countries. FES, established in Malawi in 1967, caters for a broad customer base of commercial and emerging farmers.

Sana Partners Fund I, a private equity fund also had an eye on Brenn-O-Kem, a South African company that adds value to wine waste such as grape skins and seeds (i.e. pomace) and wine lees into natural products used in the wine, brandy, food and pharmaceutical industries.

The month closed with Zambeef, one of the largest integrated cold chain food producers in Zambia disposing off its Sinazongwe farm at a cost of US$10 million to Chenguang Biotech – a Chinese company.

 

May

Unlike in April, a dozen of deals were reported in May, spread across multiple sectors, as deal flow started again, as the continent was starting to get into terms with the pandemic.

Zimbabwe’s packaging manufacturing industry welcomed Brainman Investment’s acquisition of state-owned, Zimbabwe Glass Holdings (Zimglass) for US$22 million, in a development likely to pave way for the revival of the country’s sole glass manufacturer. Another player in the same sector, Tetra Pak acquired South Africa-based asset management company, Gaussian to enhance its existing outcome-based solutions for customers.

In Kenya, Export Trading Group (ETG) acquired a US$15 million syndicate loan from Finnfund along-side other investors, to support major agricultural supply chain of numerous African and Asian countries, which were particularly affected by the pandemic. In Tanzania, AgDevCo, the UK-based social impact investor, issued a long-term debt investment to Pee Pee Tanzania Limited (PPTL), a regional leader in the production of grain storage bags. The financing was to be channelled towards expanding PPTL’s manufacturing capacity, including setting up a newly dedicated factory for the production of grain storage bags.

Meanwhile in Uganda, Pearl Capital Partners through the Yield Uganda Investment Fund, injected UGX 4.6bn (US$ 1.2m) in NASECO, the producer, processor and distributor of certified seeds in the East African community, geared towards improving NASECO’s production capacity and market development.

The retail sector seems to have been the winner of the month. To start us off was Dubai-based conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) obtaining KSH.3 billion (US$28.3m) loan facility from South Africa’s Standard Bank Group to finance expansion of its Carrefour franchise in Kenya. In Botswana, Sefalana Holding Company Limited, one of the country’s largest retail outfits acquired a 40% stake in Australian based supermarket chain, Seasons Group. Also, Ninety One, an asset management business, alongside Rand Merchant Bank Ventures (RMBV), the private equity arm of Rand Merchant Bank sold 24% of its equity investment in Kamoso Africa via its Africa Equity Fund 2(APEF2) to Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).

With its deep pockets, Pan-African private equity firm, Development Partners International (DPI) invested US$56m into Société Industrielle des Conserves Alimentaires (SICAM), leading agri-business and tomato processor in Tunisia. The financing was aimed at reinforcing the company’s market leadership and help drive its international expansion strategy. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Cepheus Growth Capital Partners invested into Lion Brands Manufacturing Industries PLC (Lion Brands), one of the country’s leading manufacturers of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) products and acquired a minority stake in the company.

Malawi’s agriculture sector saw South African based, United Farmers Fund (UFF) Agri Asset Management, the agricultural fund advisor within the Old Mutual Investment Group, invest in farming business Jacoma Estates – the parent company of Tropha Estates, an agribusiness developing over 1,000 hectares of irrigated macadamia.

The month ended with Cairo 3A, an integrated agri-commodity trader and manufacturer in Egypt closing on the EGP 420m (US$26.7m) acquisition of Egyptian Starch & Glucose Company from Americana Group, Americana Egypt and Cairo Poultry.

 June

Early in the month, the IFC opened its chequebook and issued US$12.41 million to Tunisia’s leading dates exporting company VACPA, to cushion the business from the adverse effects of the COVID19 pandemic.

In Zambia, the country’s first seed company, Zamseed secured K91 million (US$5m) investment from UK based investment advisor, SilverStreet capital to expand its operations and ensure continuity of business. Another investor, Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund) provided a loan of US$904,000 to soya milling and aggregation company based in Ghana, Dragon Farming Limited, coupled with technical assistance.  Ethiopia’s edible oil manufacturer Turaco also received backing from French development financial institution Proparco and Ethos Mezzanine Partners, receiving US$22m worth of financing.

On the other side of the region, South African investment company Brait, whose largest shareholder is Christo Wiese, sold its 63.1% interest in retail chain, Iceland Foods to a newly established company NewCo, in line with its revised strategy to maximise value realisation from its assets over the next five years.

The Public Investment Corporation of South Africa continued to rake in more investments, with the Competition Commission approving its proposed acquisition of Alzu Agri, a diversified agricultural and agro-processing group that is involved in maize, cattle, pig and animal feed production.

Still in South Africa, Tongaat Hulett entered into a R375 million (US$21.7m) sale agreement for its Eswatini sugarcane farm with Eswatini’s Public Service Pensions Fund, as part of its strategy to reduce its R13bn (US$753m) by March 2021. The company also sold its sugar packaging and distribution business in Namibia (THN) to Bokomo.

Certain sectors were not left behind such as the poultry industry, which saw Country Bird Holdings Proprietary Limited (CBH) acquiring 32.1% stake of JSE-listed feed and poultry products firm, Quantum Foods Holdings Limited, which were offloaded by Zeder Investments. Silverlands II SCSp, a Luxembourg-based investment fund later acquired a 32% stake in the company. Astral Foods Limited, the integrated poultry producer also got into the mix, taking a 6.42% beneficial interest in Quantum, as the scramble ensued.

 July

It was Nigeria’s Dangote Sugar Refinery that started off the month with its acquisition and merger with sister company, Savannah Sugar Company Limited (SSCL) in a bid to enhance production capacity and further increase its market share.

Still in the spirit of pulling together, South African dairy processor, Sundale Dairy formed a joint venture with International cheese processor Schreiber Foods, investing R70 million (US$4.25m) in the construction of a new cheese processing factory at the East London Industrial Development Zone.

The country’s beverage sector was not left behind, with private equity specialist RMB Corvest forming a strategic partnership with Mark Bowman, former Managing Director of SABMiller Africa to acquire equity interest in South Africa’s fast-growing energy drinks business, Switch.

In Zimbabwe, state-owned pension fund, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) made its intention known of acquiring 35 percent shareholding in Silo Foods Industries, a government owned agro-processing company.

By way of contrast, Feronia Inc. an agribusiness company operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), entered into a definitive purchase agreement with Straight KKM 2 Limited (KKM) to sell its equity interests in its operating subsidiary, Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC).

September

Searching for future growth, Land’Or, Tunisian dairy processor specializing in cheese making received €10.9 million (US$12.89m) loan financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to support its expansion in the country and investment in Morocco.

Also in the dairy sector, the Arabian Food Industries Company, popularly known as Domty signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dutch dairy processor, FrieslandCampina to explore and undertake cheese export to African countries.

Engee Manufacturing Limited, Nigeria’s leading manufacturer of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) resin used in packaging for soft drinks, bottled water and other household products acquired a US$39m financing facility from IFC and the International Development Association to build a Continuous Polymerisation PET Resin plant in Ogun state.

In Zimbabwe, Nhimbe Fresh, the country’s leading horticultural firm secured US$15 million investment from an undisclosed United Arab Emirates investor, to expand its fruit production eyeing the export market. Meanwhile, South Africa’s Pioneer Fishing acquired canned pilchard brand, Glenryck in a bid to strengthen its position in the local canned fish market.

Investment company Brait, continued to monetize its portfolio, offloading its stake in DGB, South African producer and distributor of wine and spirits to asset management corporation Capitalworks and businessman Tim Hutchinson, the long-time head of the liquor company, for an undisclosed sum. In the food service sector, SA’s Competition Commission conditionally approved Roos Foods, the leading KFC franchisee in South Africa to acquire 10 KFC franchised restaurants owned by Van Eeden Kitskos.

Killing two birds with one stone, Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund), a blended-finance impact fund issued loan financing worth £1.2 million (US$1.4m) to two West African companies, Anatrans, a cashew nut processor based in Burkina Faso and Maphlix Trust Ghana Limited, a producer and processor of tubers and vegetables.

Another deal to be announced was Nigerian dairy processor FrieslandCampina WAMCO finalizing the acquisition of Nutricima’s dairy business from PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc for an undisclosed sum. With Ghana nearing commencement of its 2020/21 cocoa season, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), in collaboration with a consortium of international and local financiers, inked an agreement for a US$1.3 billion syndicated loan facility to finance cocoa purchases and related operational activities for the season.

 October

Most deals registered in October were actualized in Southern Africa. To start off the month was plastic manufacturer Arkay Plastics receiving an undisclosed amount of investment from International private equity firm Spear Capital to finance its operations in Zambia and Mozambique.

This was followed with South African restaurant franchisor, Famous Brands offloading its long-time struggling British fast-food operation, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) to Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), a UK based restaurant group owner.

Omnia Holdings, the South African chemicals and fertiliser group was also on the disposal trail, reaching an agreement to sell its Oro Agri business to Rovensa, a Europe headquartered business that procures and distributes biocontrol, bio nutrition and crop protection solutions for US$146.9m (R2.4bn). Meanwhile, supermarket chain Pick n Pay bought on-demand online delivery app Bottles to strengthen its e-commerce operations.

In Namibia, EOS Capital, a private equity fund manager partnered with Climate Fund Managers (CFM) to invest US$60 million (N$990 million) in Kelp Blue, a sustainable oceanic aquaculture enterprise focused on addressing the challenges of climate change and restoring the health of marine ecosystems through commercially viable solutions.

The month closed with Ghanaian manufacturer of Yum-mie Noodles brand, Blow Chem Industries selling its noodle division to Indomie brand owner, De United Food Industries Ghana Limited (DUFIL).

 

Global Giants Unilever, Nestle and Heineken boosted their shareholdings in their Nigerian Subsidiaries - Picking up Good bargains due to COVID-19 pandemic.

November

November began with South Africa’s leading dairy companies, Dairy Farmers of South Africa (DFSA) and Coega Dairy merging operations, thereby creating a new agribusiness venture in the region known as Dairy Group. The 50:50 partnership brought DFSA’s over a century long experience as a market leader in the procurement of raw milk and supplying premium brands such as Clover, with Coega Dairy’s low-cost efficiency and house-brand knowledge.

Investors also had an eye on the region’s aquaculture sector with Kenya’s largest commercial fish farm Victory Farms clinching an undisclosed amount of investment from Dutch family-backed impact investment firm DOB Equity to scale up its production capacity and expand its market reach. On a similar track, Chicoa Fish Farm, the largest commercial provider of fish in Mozambique closed its Series A equity funding round totalling US$1.5 million from Goodwell Investments to enable it transition to the next stage of growth: processing and distribution of frozen tilapia products.

In North Africa, Holmarcom Group, a leading diversified industrial group in Morocco offloaded 49% of its stake in its grain terminal operator Mass Céréales al Maghreb (MCM) to Danish company A.P. Moller Capital (APMC), as part of its ambitions plan of pursuing new investments that will enable more reliable and efficient supply chains, support food security, and create sustainable jobs in African markets.

The month came to a close with East Africa’s leading supplier of food grade liquefied carbon dioxide, Carbacid Investments Limited (CIL) in collaboration with Aksaya Investments LLP placed a KSH.1.2 billion (US$10.9 million) takeover bid for 100% shares of BOC Kenya, manufacturer of industrial, medical and special gases, to give Carbacid a competitive edge as it expands its portfolio. The deal is yet to close.

 December

Yummy! That’s what this deal makes you think of, as December got into a high gear.

Glacier Products Ltd, one of Eastern Africa’s leading ice cream and chocolate confectionery manufacturers headquartered in Kenya received an undisclosed amount of investment from EXEO Capital. The financial and management backing is aimed to steer the producers of renowned Dairyland ice creams and chocolates towards continued sustainable growth.

Still in Kenya, ZEP-RE, the leading African reinsurer created under the auspices of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) entered into an agreement to acquire a controlling 56% stake in ACRE Africa, an insurance intermediary in a bid to deepen covers for smallholder farmers in the region.

Having an eye on future growth, Agri Commodities and Finance (ACF), the main trading company of ETG Group clinched a US$70 million working capital loan from Dutch development financier FMO. Meanwhile, Tanzanian glass container manufacturer Kioo Limited acquired US$10 million working capital loan from IFC to help mitigate the impact of the Covid pandemic on the business.

In West Africa, USAID through its West Africa Trade & Investment Hub partnered with two private sector players to boost production, partnering with WACOT Rice Limited, the Nigerian subsidiary of Tropical General Investments Group, to invest US$1.48m and US$8.6m respectively in the country’s rice value chain to expand the miller’s rice out grower scheme and to on-board additional farmers.

In addition to that, the trade hub granted Koster Keunen, one of the world’s leading processors, refiners and marketers of natural waxes, US$2 million to organize and improve West Africa’s beekeeping supply chain to meet international standards for honey and beeswax in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo.

Further North of the region, Tunisian caps and closure manufacturer Somipem closed its second round of private equity financing from investment firm Ekuity Capital and asset manager United Gulf Financial Services-North Africa (UGFS North-Africa), to finance its expansion within Tunisia and across the region.

Closing the deals chapter was Blue Investment Holding, owned by Helios Investment Partners, a private equity fund manager focused on the Africa region, acquiring 35% stake of BIM’s subsidiary in Morocco for about US$9.6 million.

Traversing through the region in 2020 has clearly shown that Africa’s food and beverage market worth US$ 313 billion is poised for exponential growth to reach US$ 1 trillion by 2030 as players did not stop at nothing despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

This feature appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Food Business Africa. You can read this and the entire magazine HERE

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