South African farmers to oppose Afgri buyout -Business Day
JOHANNESBURG Oct 4 (Reuters) - A group of black South African farmers has petitioned the government against the proposed $258 million management-backed buyout of Afgri by a Mauritian investment firm, the Business Day newspaper reported on Friday.
The African Farmers' Association of South Africa (Afasa) says the deal is "blatant stealing of a cheap asset built by the state and South African commercial farmers," the newspaper said.
Afgri, which produces animal feed and extends financial services to farmers, has been in business for 90 years and was a co-operative before its listing in 1996.
"The money it receives is in essence subsidised by the people of South Africa," the newspaper quoted Afasa as saying.
No one was immediately available for comment at Afasa.
Investment firm AgriGroupe, together with some members of Afgri's management, last week offered 2.6 billion rand ($258 million) to take the firm private.
Certain members of management would have a 5 percent stake in AgriGroupe when the deal is completed, Afgri and AgriGroupe said in a joint statement last week.
AgriGroupe is owned by Joseph Investment Holdings, a private company incorporated in Mauritius. Business Day said about 70 percent of the investors in the deal are based in North America.
Investors holding 42.6 percent of Afgri have already agreed to vote in favour of the takeover, the two companies said last week.
But Pretoria has a history of blocking cross-border deals, especially for political reasons.
Last year the government scuppered a bid by South Korea's KT Corp for 20 percent in Telkom SA, saying the fixed-line operator was integral to a plan by the rural African National Congress (ANC) to roll out broadband access to rural South Africans.
Jobs and rural development are sensitive issues for the ANC, particularly with elections next year.
Afgri shares were down 1.7 percent at 6.47 rand at 1018 GMT, and below the AgriGroupe offer price of 7 rand a share. ($1 = 10.0778 South African rand) (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by David Dolan)