Lonrho has announced that Kwikbuild has won R28.5m of new business by the SA government.

Lonrho had increased its stake in prefabricated buildings manufacturer Kwikbuild to just more than 70% and planned to increase its stake in agricultural processor Rollex SA, CEO Geoffrey White said last week.

GeoffreyKwikbuild has a major share of the South African market, and has businesses in Mozambique and Zambia, while Rollex is one of SA’s largest agriprocessing companies supplying fresh produce to local and overseas customers.

The investments, being funded by proceeds from a recent private placement that raised £25m, were part of a strategy to own majority stakes in the companies in which it is investing across Africa.

White said the private placement had given Lonrho, listed on London’s AIM market, enough cash to expand in the five areas of infrastructure, transport, hotels, agribusiness and support services in 17 countries, including SA.

Once a sprawling conglomerate which, at its peak in 1995, had about 90 companies, Lonrho has restructured, selling assets to pay debt and return cash to shareholders. It is now an investment holding group targeting selected markets in Africa, where White said there were sustainable returns for the patient investor.

“We have so far raised £25m, the bulk of which we intend to deploy to increase our stake in some of our businesses,” he said.

“Our intention is to have a majority stake of at least more than 51% in key businesses and that is the reason we have increased our shareholding in Kwikbuild from 62% to about 71%. We are also looking at increasing our shareholding in Rollex from 51% to a significant amount.”

Kwikbuild has benefited largely from government tenders in SA, where it has supplied prefabricated clinics and classrooms in rural areas. It plans to expand to countries such as Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in east Africa.

Rollex is packing and delivering fresh produce and fish to local customers Pick n Pay and Woolworths and, in Europe, to Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

The company, operated as a subsidiary of Lonrho Agriculture, has a large, chilled bonded warehouse at OR Tambo airport.

White said Rollex was growing its export markets. It had begun shipping fish from Namibia to the US and Europe, and had opened new markets in the Middle East and Scandinavia. “There is general demand for African fresh produce and we are sourcing our products not only from SA but elsewhere in Africa.”

There were plans to expand agriprocessing facilities in Angola, Malawi, Mali and Zimbabwe.

White said Lonrho was consolidating and expanding in Zimbabwe through LonZim. He said the country was recovering, and still had “a relatively highly educated labour force with an industrious working culture” as well as good infrastructure.

LonZim’s portfolio covers sectors such as aviation, hotels, IT and pharmaceuticals.

 

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