Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Former farmers co-op Afgri is seeking to acquire the South African portion of Bank of Athens for an undisclosed amount.

The deal would give Afgri, which has long been a financier of farmers in partnership with the Land Bank, a banking licence.

Afgri is seeking permission from the South African Reserve Bank to acquire all but 0.09% of Bank of Athens SA from its holding company National Bank of Greece Group.

Vanessa Rech, of investor relations company Keyter Rech, said the deal was not expected to change the group’s partnership with the Land Bank, called Unigro, which offers loans and crop insurance to farmers. Afgri also has a subsidiary called GroCapital Financial Services, whose services include trading futures contracts for farmers.

"All we envisage at this stage for Bank of Athens is a change of holding company. It won’t make a difference to its customers or ours," Rech said.

Something Afgri will gain from the deal is the right to accept deposits, something its existing relationship with the Land Bank does not provide.

Historically known as OTK — the Afrikaans acronym for Eastern Transvaal Co-operative — Afgri was listed on the JSE until 2013 when it bought out minority investors in a deal financed by Canadian private equity firm Fairfax, the Public Investment Corporation, an empowerment partner and management.

Afgri’s acquisition of Bank of Athens is supported by Fairfax, it was noted in Tuesday’s statement.

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