M&A Africa: UK’s ABF Buys Out Africa’s No. 1 Sugar Producer, Illovo

Written by Staff

From FinancialTimes.

Associated British Foods, a company with an unlikely collection of businesses from discount clothes to Twinings tea, has finally fulfilled it ambitions and acquired the 48.65 percent stake in Illovo Sugar that it didn’t already own.

ABF has been trying to buy the rest of the South African sugar business for some time, and agreed to a $370 million US deal with the Illovo board.

Listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Illovo is the largest sugar producer in Africa. It operates in countries including Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, and South Africa.

Illovo has endured some tough times of late amid weak global sugar prices.

In mid-January ABF said total production at Illovo was expected to be slightly lower this year as volumes have been affected by an “exceptional and sustained” drought in South Africa and power outages in Zambia, which restricted the company’s ability to irrigate sugar cane crops. However, in February it struck a slightly more upbeat tone.

World prices remain low but a tightening of EU and Chinese stock levels has resulted in a strengthening of domestic prices in those markets.

“Illovo is well positioned to capitalize on this growth although high global sugar stocks, low world sugar prices and forthcoming changes to the EU sugar regime have created a challenging trading environment,” ABF said. “AB Sugar has a strong track record of commercial development and delivering performance improvement programs and believes that full ownership will accelerate Illovo’s progress in these areas.

Illovo directors who own shares in Illovo have agreed, in principle, to vote in favor of the proposed transaction.

Read more at FinancialTimes.