Leaner trading conditions in the local poultry sector, coupled with high levels of cheap imports, could lead to Astral Foods — the JSE’s "big bird" — swooping on a smaller rival. Astral CEO Chris Schutte says some of the smaller and medium-size poultry players have expanded "a bit" recently, and Astral will look at opportunities for acquisitions.  Earlier this year Uitenhage-based poultry group Sovereign Foods acquired the Hyline Africa (now Blue Hills) hatchery in Midrand, and merged with the Cold Storage Group (CSG), an Eastern Cape wholesaler of poultry and value-added poultry products. Market watchers reckon one possible deal could be an Astral takeover of the struggling Daybreak Farms poultry business. The Public Investment Corp (PIC), which invested in Daybreak in 2015, is also a key shareholder in Astral. Market share estimates show Astral holds about 26% of the local broiler market with Daybreak accounting for about 7%. Other big players are RCL’s Rainbow with a 20% market s...

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