October 23, 2018 / 4:45 PM / a year ago

S.African pension fund buys majority stake in Africa's biggest cattle firm

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 23 (Reuters) - South Africa’s state pension fund and a local black investment firm have bought a majority stake in Africa’s biggest cattle company for 5.2 billion rand ($360 million).

The Public Investment Corp. (PIC), Africa’s largest investment fund and the biggest investor in South Africa’s economy, said on Tuesday it had bought a majority share in Karan Beef alongside Pelo Agricultural Ventures, a black-owned agriculture investment firm.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made the agriculture sector one of his top growth priorities as he seeks to drag the South African economy out of recession.

Ramaphosa’s government also wants to redistribute more of the ownership of the economy into the hands of black South Africans to help redress the racial inequality that still persists 24 years after the end of white-minority rule.

“This is a historic deal ... which will support the much needed transformation in the agricultural sector,” PIC chief executive Daniel Matjila said in a statement.

“We are, particularly, happy that the Karan family has decided to sell part of this important asset to South Africans, ensuring that ownership remains local and in black control.”

Karan Beef, which operates outside Johannesburg, mostly supplies the South African market but also exports. Its abattoir has the capacity to process 2,100 cattle a day.

The PIC’s investments include South African government bonds and bonds issued by state-owned firms.

The fund also has stakes in blue-chip companies across various industries such as Anglo American Platinum, Barclays Africa and Shoprite. ($1 = 14.3806 rand) (Reporting by Joe Brock. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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