Brimstone will exit Clover deal due to anti-Israel pressure

By Ana Monteiro and Antony Sguazzin

(Bloomberg) – Brimstone Investment Corp. will exit a deal led by an Israeli company to buy South Africa’s biggest dairy producer after protests by a pro-Palestinian activist group.

The investment-holding firm is in “advanced talks” with a replacement shareholder that could see it exiting its entire shareholding in Milco SA – the entity that has offered R4.8bn ($343m) deal to buy Clover Industries Ltd. – by the end of the year, it said in a statement Friday.

Central Bottling Co., based in Tel Aviv, is leading the transaction along and is the biggest shareholder in Milco. A CBC unit will buy Brimstone’s interest on Dec. 31 if it hasn’t found an alternative investor by then, the South African company said.

The country’s ruling African National Congress had close ties to the Palestine Liberation Organisation during the apartheid era and Israeli interests are frequently the target of protests in South Africa. Brimstone says on its website that it has “impeccable empowerment credentials and a values-driven corporate identity.”

The deal was opposed by Boycott Divestment Sanctions South Africa, a group with a history of anti-Israel activity. “We will actively initiate, support and/or join the call for direct action and a militant but peaceful campaign,” the organisation said. That will include “protests and disruptions against Clover and a boycott of all of its products.”

BDSSA in 2014 led calls for a boycott of Woolworths Holdings Ltd., an upmarket South African retailer, because of its sale of figs, pretzels and pomegranates imported from Israel. Woolworths said at the time that some of its customers and staff had been intimidated during protests inside its stores and pig heads were left in some outlets.