Christo Wiese in Shoprite battle; Nigerian bank eyes SA; SA maggots go global; Zim hunger crisis; Sibanye

By Jackie Cameron

  • Christo Wiese faces another corporate battle. The former billionaire, who lost fortunes when the Steinhoff share collapsed and was relegated from the ranks of a billionaire to a millionaire, could lose his grip on power at Shoprite. Bloomberg reports that a Shoprite Holdings Ltd. shareholder nominated a veteran retail executive to the board of Africa’s biggest grocer in an attempt to reduce the influence of Chairman Christo Wiese — part of a wider investor pushback against the former billionaire. Wiese, 78, has been chairman of the Cape Town-based company for almost three decades and has more voting rights than any other shareholder. He is standing for re-election as non-executive director at the supermarket giant’s annual general meeting next week, continues Bloomberg. “All Weather Capital nominated former Pepkor Ltd. head Jan le Roux, 69, as a director, a move that will be voted on at Shoprite’s annual general meeting on Monday. Wiese is the former owner of Pepkor and developed the company into a pan-African clothing retailer before agreeing to sell to Steinhoff Holdings International NV in 2014. “We need some forces on the board that will balance Wiese’s influence,” Shane Watkins, chief investment officer at All Weather, said by phone to Bloomberg.
  • A major Nigerian financial services provider sees lucrative business opportunities in South Africa. Access Bank Plc, Nigerian biggest lender, plans to open operations in four additional African countries in the next year, following its takeover of Transnational Bank Ltd. of Kenya, says Bloomberg. “By this time next year we would probably have added about four more subsidiaries, most of them greenfield,” Chief Executive Officer Herbert Wigwe said Wednesday. South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Senegal, Liberia and Ivory Coast are among countries being considered for the setting up of subsidiaries, representative offices or partnerships, he said. The institution plans to be present in 22 African countries, according to a presentation on its website. It currently operates in Sierra Leone, Gambia, Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and Congo.
  • Sibanye Gold Ltd., the world’s biggest platinum miner, said it’s on track to resume dividend payments in the latter half of 2020 as third-quarter earnings more than tripled, reports Bloomberg. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization surged 240% to R5.5bn ($366 million) in the quarter through September, the South African mining company said Thursday in a statement.
  • Here’s a quirky or should that be creepy good news story for South Africa. It is about to become a major fly exporter. Yes, you heard that right. The company behind the world’s first industrial-scale maggot farm based on organic waste plans to kick off its international expansion with a plant in California next year, taking advantage of two global problems: a shortage of protein and an abundance of trash. The plant, reports Bloomberg, in Jurupa Valley will be followed by operations in the Netherlands and Belgium, and is part of a drive by AgriProtein and a handful of competitors worldwide to tap into demand for high-grade protein for fish and poultry feed and offer a solution for the unwanted organic waste that cities and farms produce. “The world is long on waste and short on protein,” Jason Drew, AgriProtein’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. The California operation will be modeled on the facility in Cape Town, which rears black soldier flies on about 250 metric tons of organic waste daily. The flies’ larvae are then harvested to produce 4,000 metric tons of protein meal a year. At any one time, including eggs, there are 8.4 billion flies in the factory. The plant also produces 3,500 tons of fatty acid oil and 16,500 tons of frass, or maggot droppings, which is used as fertilizer. Each facility costs about $42 million to build and can generate $13 to $15 million in annual revenue. AgriProtein is competing with the Netherlands’s Protix BV, France’s Ynsect SAS and Innova Feed, Canada’s Enterra Feed Corp and U.S. company EnviroFlight LLC. All use the black soldier fly, except Ynsect, which breeds mealworms.
  • There is a humanitarian crisis unfolding on South Africa’s doorstep. About half of Zimbabwe’s 14m people are on the brink of starvation, according to the country’s finance minister. About half of Zimbabwe’s 14 million people lack reliable access to enough food as a result of the worst regional drought in almost 40 years, according to the Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube. Bloomberg reports that the situation is compounded by cyclone-induced floods earlier this year and an economic collapse that have left the southern African nation on the verge of its worst-ever famine. “About half of the total population is food insecure,” Ncube said in an emailed copy of a speech to lawmakers attending a pre-budget consultation in the capital, Harare. While the government has responded by declaring a state of disaster and distributed about 190,000 metric tons of corn to households — including those in cities for the first time ever — production of the staple is forecast to more than halve. Plans to import as much as 800,000 tons of the staple are complicated by an acute shortage of foreign exchange and prices have doubled. The situation is exacerbated by rampant inflation, which stood at 17.7% a month in September.
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