Unlisted fishing company TerraSan – which has a substantial aquaculture operation – has landed a private equity firm.

EXEO Capital confirmed an undisclosed investment in TerraSan via its Agri-Vie Fund II. EXEO joins Trustee Board Investments (TBI) – a backer of JSE-listed companies Accentuate and Efficient — as a key shareholder in TerraSan.

The investment is EXEO’s second tilt at aquaculture with its Agri-Vie Fund I already an investor in HIK, a Hermanus-based abalone farming venture.

While EXEO highlighted the growth potential of abalone farming, TerraSan also owns substantial pelagic fishing interests, as well as mussel and fishmeal ventures. TerraSan also acquired fish canning specialist, the Saldanha Group, in 2017.

Kennett Sinclair, a partner at EXEO Capital, said the breeding of fish and other aquatic animals under controlled conditions continued to gain popularity as wild-caught fish numbers decreased. Aquaculture had also achieved rapid growth in SA, given the high-value export-oriented nature, local government support and expansion opportunities, he said.

"The fundamentals driving the aquaculture industry globally as well as in sub-Sahara Africa support the strategic rationale for the transaction."

EXEO acquired new shares in TerraSan, but the value of the capital injection was not disclosed. Sinclair believed the partnership could prompt expansion and value-adding opportunities at TerraSan.

Two JSE-listed companies are involved in abalone farming – recently listed Premier Fishing & Brands (PremFish) and consumer brands conglomerate AVI via its controlling stake in fishing group I&J. Oceana, the largest fishing group on the JSE, has also indicated a willingness to invest in aquaculture.

TerraSan’s strategy was to grow organically by expanding its abalone and mussel production facilities, improving the quality of its bulk fishmeal and becoming the processing home for the smaller quota holders in the small pelagic fishing industry, Sinclair said


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