Brian Van Rooyen: The Man Behind The Listed South African Cannabis Firm

Avatar
Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Brian Van Rooyen
Brian van Rooyen is the CEO of Labat, a South African investment holding company that has interests in fuel, logistics and technology — and now cannabis. Labat Africa Group CEO Brian van Rooyen has launched Labat Cannabis in an effort to become a major player in the Southern African cannabis industry. Photo provided by Labat

Brian van Rooyen is the CEO of Labat Africa Group, a South African investment holding company that has interests in fuel, logistics and information and communication technology.

Labat (LABJ.J) has been listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange for 25 years. The majority Black-owned firm has a new and exciting industry it is aiming to dominate regionally — cannabis.

Cultivating and processing cannabis is legal for medicinal use in Lesotho. In South Africa, recreational use in private is permitted but growing cannabis for commercial purposes is not yet legal.

Under Van Rooyen’s leadership, the company has established a cannabis firm called Labat Cannabis, according to a shareholder announcement.

Labat Cannabis has been acquiring pharmaceutical and genetics firms alongside a license to operate in Lesotho as part of Van Rooyen’s strategy to become a dominant force in the Southern African cannabis industry.

Few would bet against Van Rooyen achieving his aims with Labat Cannabis. The trained accountant with a strong personality has been successful in many areas of his professional life.

As a former provincial rugby player and administrator of the sport at the highest level in South Africa, Van Rooyen worked to bring white and Black players together within teams as part of the unification of the sport nationally after the end of apartheid.

He applied the work ethic he learned in his sporting career to the business world when he founded Labat alongside business partner Victor Labat in 1995.

Van Rooyen has been at the helm of the company since then, listing it on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1999 as one of the first listed Black-owned firms to do so.

His business experience includes directorships at private and public companies, with the South African government entrusting Van Rooyen with assignments related to the transformation of the department of public works and the department of water affairs, as well as the establishment of Johannesburg’s major electricity utility, City Power.

Brian Van Rooyen and racial transformation

Racial equality and righting the wrongs of South Africa’s apartheid past has been a major focus for Van Rooyen during his career, according to Labat

He has been an advocate for equal opportunities in business and society, campaigning vigorously for the transformation of sport, and especially rugby, to provide opportunities for those that were previously disadvantaged under apartheid.

As the CEO of a majority Black-owned firm, he continues to create opportunities for people of color in South Africa and elsewhere.

With Lesotho becoming the first African country to legalize cannabis, Canadian and British companies have been quick to take advantage of the cheaper labor and ideal growing conditions in the mountain kingdom.

Under Van Rooyen’s guidance, a South African firm is now benefiting from Lesotho’s forward-thinking cannabis legalization policy while building the country’s economy.

Labat has acquired a license to cultivate, manufacture, supply, hold, import, export, and transport cannabis in Lesotho, BusinessLive reports.

Labat is buying a 70 percent stake in Lesotho cannabis grower and manufacturer Zarenka for around $3.8 million, according to Fin24.