South Africa's Imperial aims to double Africa business

JOHANNESBURG Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:21am EDT

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Imperial Holdings (IPLJ.J) aims to double its core profit from the rest of Africa in at least three years and is looking for acquisitions to fuel the growth, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Hubert Brody told Reuters Africa Investment Summit that Imperial, South Africa's largest transport group, could spend up to 1 billion rand ($112 million) to bolster its African business outside its home market.

Imperial, whose trucks haul Tiger Brands (TBSJ.J) and Procter & Gamble (PG.N) products through sub-Saharan Africa, is betting the continent's burgeoning demand for consumer goods will continue to lift its earnings.

"We would like to double our Africa business in the next three or four years and the vast majority of that should come from logistics in the consumer industry," he said in an interview at Reuters offices in Johannesburg.

Operating profit from Africa, excluding South Africa, totaled 450 million rand ($51 million) in the last financial year.

Imperial recently bought a Namibian transporter of consumer goods and a South African firm that moves pharmaceutical products across the continent, acquisitions that gave it warehouses in several sub-saharan countries including Nigeria and Kenya.

Both South African and global firms such Shoprite (SHPJ.J) and Unilever (ULVR.L) have aggressive expansion plans for the continent of a billion people, giving Imperial and other logistic firms a reason to set up warehouses in key markets.

"We want to be their first choice as they go into the rest of Africa," Brody said.

(Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits) ($1 = 8.9053 South African rand)

(For other news from Reuters Africa Investment Summit, click here)

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Zandi Tshabalala)

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