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Management of Karan Beef could seek PIC finance to buy family-owned company

| Supplier news

Karan Beef, the continent’s largest cattle feedlot, is considering a management buyout that will value the company, based south of Johannesburg, at about R6bn, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The management of Karan Beef may approach the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages pension funds of South African government workers, to help it with funding, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information was not public.

The managers were considering buying a part or all of the business, depending on the finance available to them, the two sources said.

Founded by the Karan family on their farm in 1974 with fewer than 100 head of cattle, the company now owns a herd of about 150,000 and has also bought three adjoining farms, an abattoir and a nearby distribution centre, according to its website.

Karan Beef is a closely held company and does not comment on market speculation, the company said.

It is still fully owned by Ivor Karan, one of the people said.

SA was the largest consumer of beef in sub-Saharan Africa in 2017 and the 14th biggest in the world, according to data compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. SA’s 55-million people consumed 869,400 tonnes of beef in 2017, which compares with 12-million tonnes in the US, the data show.

Almost a year ago, the company and six others in Gauteng, the Free State and the Northern Cape were raided by the Competition Commission on allegations of price fixing and "anticompetitive trading conditions".

Competition probe

Karan Beef said in a statement at the time that it had been co-operating fully with the commission’s investigation and had provided all the documents and information they required.

"I am surprised that the Competition Commission initiated this investigation. I don’t believe that there is any collusion to fix prices either in the purchase of weaner calves or in the sale of our beef products.

"If anything‚ Karan Beef is in fierce competition with other producers in the beef industry implicated in this investigation‚" Arnold Pretorius‚ CEO of Karan Beef, was quoted as saying when the raid took place.

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