SOUTH AFRICA – Abraaj Group is planning an initial public offering of South African food and personal care maker Libstar, which may value the firm at as much as $1bn, according to people familiar with the matter.

The emerging markets buyout firm, which bought a controlling stake in Libstar in 2014, is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Standard Bank Group Ltd. on a planned share sale this year which may raise about $300m, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

The company is leaning toward a listing on the local stock exchange though a potential sale in London is also under consideration, the people said. No final decisions have been made, they said.

Representatives for Abraaj, JPMorgan and Standard Bank declined to comment.

Talk about a Johannesburg listing comes at a time when South Africa’s economy is in a recession and political uncertainty heightened after President Jacob Zuma at the end of March fired his finance minister in a midnight cabinet purge.

Abraaj is also planning an IPO of its North African hospitals business, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

Libstar is one of the largest unlisted food and personal care manufacturers in the country and employs about 6,700 people, according to Abraaj’s website.

The company was founded in 2005 as an investment holding company, targeting firms in the consumer goods sector.

Abraaj’s acquisition of a controlling stake helped the company to expand into Middle East and other parts of Africa.

June 22, 2017: Fin24