SOUTH AFRICA – The Competition Commission has conditionally approved the US$343.95 million (R4.8bn) sale of South Africa’s branded foods and beverages group Clover Industries Limited to Milco SA.

The consortium (Milco SA) led by Tel Aviv-based Central Bottling Company (CBC) in February this year offered to acquire the south African company, a deal which is still pending approval from the Competition Tribunal.

CBC operates as Milco SA Proprietary and manufactures and distributes Coca-Cola branded soft drinks and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in Israel.

The food and beverage firm also own the Tara dairy, Israel’s second-largest milk processing dairy, produces and distributes its own brands and Muller brands, and it operates the licence for the Müller brand in Romania.

Clover said the commission had recommended that the Competition Tribunal approve the transaction, which has elicited criticism from NGO Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and trade union Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU).

This led to Brimstone Investments Corporation, a South African investment firm, pulling out from the deal in which it was set to hold a 15% stake in the country’s largest dairy firm.

By then, Brimstone said that it was in advance talks with a potential empowerment partner to replace its position in the deal as part of its plan to facilitate smooth exit.

Clover said that the transaction, which will culminate in its de-listing at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is set for the tribunal’s hearing in the coming weeks.

According to a statement issued by Clover, the conditions stipulated by the Commission relate to, among other things, employment and local procurement which were part of the investment case for the consortium Milco SA.

The company said that the conditions applicable to the implementation of the Clover scheme are acceptable to both parties.

“As soon as Clover and Milco SA have certainty on the fulfilment of the remaining Clover Scheme conditions precedent, a joint finalisation announcement will be released, setting out the remaining salient dates and times pertaining to the implementation of the Clover Scheme,” the company said.

Clover operates its business in the food and beverage industry under the dairy fluids, dairy concentrated products, ingredients, non-alcoholic beverages and fermented products segments among other products.

The Food and beverage group has more than 8,500 employees and a market capitalisation of about US$309.66 million.