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DUBAN - Clover  Industries said yesterday that the firm intention by Milco to acquire the entire issued share capital of the branded consumer goods and beverages group for R4.8billion would be decided by its shareholders at the end of the month.

Milco has been formed by a consortium of international investors led by Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC). Post-transaction, Milco would be owned 60percent by CBC, 15 percent by Brimstone, 11 percent by Ploughshare Investment, 8percent by IncuBev and 6percent by Clover management, who would reinvest a substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale of their Clover shares and share options into Milco.

However, protests by a pro-Palestinian activist group Boycott Divestment Sanctions South Africa has made Brimstone to review its participation in the consortium.

Chief executive Johann Vorster said Clover was not in the position to determine the make-up of the shareholders in the consortium.

“The shareholders will vote on the deal on March 29. It is exciting to see the interest in Clover as this is testament to what we have achieved to reposition the business and enhance its value. The Milco transaction will follow due process and is in shareholders hands now. For us it is business as usual to ensure we continue to deliver against our strategy,” Vorster said.

Vorster was speaking after the group delivered its results for the six months to end December.

The group reported 4.1percent increase in revenue to R4.4billion, mainly driven by a 5.6percent increase in volumes and a 3.1percent increase in selling prices.

Headline earnings increased by 5percent to R236million, negatively impacted by rise in fuel prices and sugar taxes while headline earnings per share also increase by 5percent to 123.5cents a share.

The group declared an interim dividend of 27.89c, up by 5percent compared to last year.

Commenting on the results Vorster said that the period was characterised by low growth and constrained consumer spend and that the group took a consumer-centric approach by ploughing savings back into selected selling prices.

“This together with our investment in marketing and sales campaigns as well as expansion of our sales team supported volume growth and market share increases across most product categories. We also built on our strategic projects that were implemented recently, and they continue to yield encouraging results,” he said.

Looking ahead the group expects the coming year to remain challenging. “We are, however, steadfast on our strategic focus areas which remain the cornerstone for future performance. Specifically, our strategic projects will position Clover to support cash strapped consumers with nutritious products at optimal price points,” Vorster said.

Shares in clover closed 1.63 percent lower at R22.28 on the JSE yesterday.

BUSINESS REPORT