Khalid Abdulla, the chief executive of AEEI. File picture: Brenton Geach

Johannesburg - JSE-listed African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) was preparing to list its Premier Food and Fishing division on the JSE main board by the first quarter of next year, the company said yesterday.

AEEI chief executive Khalid Abdulla said yesterday: “The division has shown consistent organic growth over the past five years, through achieving annual growth of more than 20 percent year on year. The time for acquisitions has come.”

Premier Food and Fishing will be competing against the sole JSE-listed fishing firm, Oceana - which is valued at R15.57 billion - under the JSE’s food producers index, which includes company peers such as Tiger Brands, as well as Sovereign Food.

Abdulla said the listing signalled an exciting phase for Premier Food and Fishing, which specialises in the harvesting, processing and marketing of fish and fish-related products, from rock lobster to general food products.

“We are excited... to show that we are building stakeholder value, which includes community building,” he said.

AEEI, formerly known as Sekunjalo Investment, is a black-owned investment holding company, whose main objective is to empower previously disadvantaged individuals through creating jobs and maximising shareholder wealth generation by making strategic investments.

Yesterday, AEEI kicked off a market sounding roadshow, which is due to end today.

“AEEI is optimistic about the outcome of the market-sounding roadshow and will be sharing pertinent details of the next phase with the market at the appropriate time,” Abdulla said.

Sustainable value

The listing was part of the group’s 2020 Vision and building sustainable value for all its stakeholders by listing its food and fishing and information technology divisions, among others.

AEEI reported a 15 percent jump in revenue for its food and fishing division to R401 million this year from R348m last year as it surpassed expectations by bolstering sales volumes and achieving better pricing.

It also reported good catch rates, efficient vessel scheduling and utilisation, specifically in its south and west coast rock lobster, pelagic, squid and abalone sectors.

Greater sales volumes, efficiencies, improved pricing and the weaker rand contributed to the growth in operating profit to R75m from R68m last year.

Premier Fishing (Premier) is the largest black-owned and managed food and fishing company in South Africa and has been in existence since 1952.

It held medium- to long-term quotas in south and west coast rock lobster, squid, pilchards, hake, and environmentally friendly agribiotechnology products.

It also boasts its own abalone farm, which currently produces about 15 percent of abalone farmed domestically.

The abalone farm is based on sustainable fishing for the future and is a high-growth area for further investment. The farm received its Environmental Impact Assessment approval for plans to further expand its farm capacity from 120 to 320 tons last month. The expansion is expected to commence next year.

AEEI shares rose 3.24 percent to close at R3.50.