SOUTH AFRICA – Pan-African alternative investment firm, EXEO Capital, has offloaded its majority stake in Cape Olive Holdings, one of South Africa’s largest table olive suppliers, to Imibala, a subsidiary of the Lona Group and co-shareholder in Cape Olive.

EXEO Capital acquired 62.7% shares of the olive firm in 2013 via its Food and Agribusiness fund, Agri-Vie Fund I.

The move marks the exit of the fund from its last investment after reaching the end of its life after 12 years.

According to the investor, the return on the investment was in line with its expectations just like in other ventures it has exited from.

“We know that we leave behind a company that will go from strength to strength.”

Izak Strauss – Partner and Co-founder of EXEO Capital

In early last year, the Agri-Vie Fund I, sold its 49.9% shareholding in InteliChem, 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.

Prior to that, the fund announced its exit from South Africa’s abalone farming companies, HIK Abalone Farm (HIK) in 2019.

Izak Strauss, Partner and Co-founder of EXEO Capital, notes that Agri-Vie Fund I’s investment in Cape Olive was hugely beneficial for the business.

“Agri-Vie was a stable majority shareholder in Cape Olive for eight years. The involvement of Agri-Vie enabled Cape Olive to expand on essential capex, increase its capacity to process a higher percentage of its crop for the table olive market, and increase efficiencies. During this period Lona also acquired 100% of Imibala,” Strauss said.

The olive industry in South Africa is relatively young compared to Mediterranean countries, where olives have been cultivated for centuries.

The Western Cape is one of the most popular areas in South Africa for cultivation of olives, and there are more than 300 olive growers and producers in South Africa.

Strauss further indicated that Cape Olive has a bright future ahead, as markets start to return to normal.

“The company is a market leader with a strong brand Buffet Olives and an integrated supply chain. It enables them to provide a consistent supply of high-quality table olives to their customers. Cape Olive has also opened up export markets to neighbouring African countries.

“We know that we leave behind a company that will go from strength to strength,” he said.

Richard Allen, CEO of Cape Olive, states that he has the highest regard for Dave Douglas and Izak Strauss, who were Agri-Vie’s representatives on the board.

“The Cape Olive management team has benefitted greatly from their experience and intellect. The encouragement and support from them and the broader Agri-Vie team, have been the distinguishing features of their tenure as shareholders in the business.”

As the Agri-Vie Fund I comes to a close, EXEO Capital has been expanding its portfolio through its Agri-Vie Fund II.

So far, Agri-Vie Fund II has offered backing to Kenya’s leading ice cream and chocolate confectionery manufacturers, Glacier Products Ltd; South African consumer health businesses Maia Group; South Africa’s non-alcoholic beverage maker, Jumbo brands; and unlisted fishing company TerraSan.

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