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Agribusiness-focused investment holding company Zeder has signed a R190m deal to sell Applethwaite Farming Business, one of its main farming production units, to Vredenhof Beleggings.

The transaction comes as Zeder gains momentum in its strategic review and capitalises on approaches it has received regarding its range of portfolio assets.

Zeder told shareholders on Tuesday that its Zeder Financial Services (ZFS) unit had entered into the deal through its direct and indirect subsidiaries Pome Investments and CS Agri to sell one of the large deciduous fruit producers in the Elgin Valley, Western Cape. 

“The disposal is consistent with Zeder’s strategic review and pursuant to the evaluation of approaches received by Zeder on various portfolio assets,” Zeder said. “The disposal is part of an initiative to maximise wealth for shareholders.”

Zeder, part of the PSG Group stable founded by Jannie Mouton, is an investment holding company with a range of investments that span the agribusiness and food industries with varying degrees of maturity.

For Zeder, shareholder returns are driven by factors such as growth in recurring headline earnings of investee companies, unlocking value, optimal disposal of noncore assets, obtaining appropriate valuations for early-stage investee companies and returning capital to shareholders through dividends or other mechanisms.

The latest transaction comes just weeks after the company announced the sale of its Theewaterskloof Farming Business to the Japie Groenewald Trust for R283m in June.

Before that in February, the group implemented the disposal by the ZFS unit of its shareholding in Capespan Group, excluding its pome fruit primary production operations and the Novo fruit packhouse. Pome is a general term for deciduous fruit such as apples and pears with a core with seeds surrounded by an edible outer layer and skin.

This is as the group has been reviewing its portfolio amid high interest in its assets. In March it said it had received several approaches from third parties regarding its pome division and Zaad Holdings, which caused its share price to jump.

In response, Zeder said it wanted to consider these approaches in a manner that was “fair to the third parties and the respective management teams of the portfolio investments” and subsequently appointed PSG Capital and Coöperatieve Rabobank as co-advisers to consider any Zaad-specific approaches and potentially embark on formal processes.

The Stellenbosch-based group said the Applethewaite deal hinged on the approval of competition authorities and the signed agreements to several significant contracts with CS Agri by no later than September 30. However, the date may be extended by a written agreement between the parties, it said.

Regarding the agreement, the disposal consideration is expected to be paid to CS Agri, which comprises three primary farming production units and the Novo fruit packhouse operation in Paarl. The transaction includes the value of the agricultural inputs on hand and the 2025 seasonal costs already incurred.

The beneficial owners of the purchaser were listed as the beneficiaries of the Sass and Emma Trust, it said.

Zeder shares were little moved on Tuesday, trading at R1.82, having climbed 6% in the past year.

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