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Johann le Roux - Zeder Holdings

Zeder's farm sales no reflection on “very good” apple and pear business

Zeder Holdings, an investor with agricultural interests, says its decision to let go of two large top fruit farms in the Boland is purely driven by their business strategy and no reflection on the value proposition offered by South African apples and pears.

In June the contract was signed to sell Zeder Holdings' Theewaterskloof Farm for R283 million (14.4 million euros) while the sale of a second, Applethwaite in Grabouw for R190 million (9.7 million euros) was announced yesterday. These top fruit farms had remained behind in the holding company when Zeder Financial Services disposed of grower-exporter Capespan (in which it had held almost 93% of the shares) for R511 million (26.1 million euros) in February 2024.

The latest transactions have not been concluded, awaiting approval by the Competition Commission, and for the moment remain the property of Zeder Holdings. Due to the sensitive stage of the transaction, the intended buyer of Applethwaite Farm, Dennegeur Farm in Grabouw, has declined to comment.

Zeder Holdings' CEO and chief financial director Johann le Roux explains that the decision to dispose of these farm assets is in no way an indication that the company does not want to be in this field.

"These are all very good farms, and very well-run," he says. "In my opinion, apples and pears are actually on a fairly strong upwards trajectory. It's a very good business to be in."

Le Roux remarks that it's well-known in the South African industry that Zeder Holdings aim at unlocking value for their shareholders. "Zeder, as is the case with most other listed investment holding companies, trade at a discount to the value of the sum of its parts or the NAV [net asset value]. It's unfortunately a function of investment holding companies at the moment and it's a structural problem. In other words, if you can sell an asset against your NAV, you immediately unlock that discount for your shareholders."

Zeder will still sell off a third and smaller production unit, while talks with various parties around the future of the Novo fruit packhouse in Paarl are underway, Le Roux says. Zeder Holdings still owns more than 97% of the shares in Zaad, a seed and agricultural inputs company that includes Klein Karoo Seed Marketing, major onion seed producer.

For more information:
Johann le Roux
Zeder Holdings