Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town, South Africa, May 15, 2018. .
(photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and Clover, South Africa’s biggest dairy producer, could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which CBC holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
The deal would buy out Clover for $354 million (NIS 1.2 m.) and bring a much needed financial boost to South Africa’s struggling economy as well as Clover, which has run into financial difficulties.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa (BDS SA) has vehemently opposed the possible deal, accusing CBC of being “complicit” in human rights abuses and violating international law. It also threatened a “militant but peaceful campaign” if the deal goes through.
CBC is Israel’s leading manufacturer and distributor of popular beverages, including Coca-Cola, Fuze Tea and other well-known drinks.
Following the announcement of the proposed deal last week, CBC chief executive Aran Oelsner said in a statement that “Clover is one of South Africa’s best-loved brands and we are excited at the opportunity to build on its heritage.”
“We are investing in a well-run company and are taking a long-term investment approach, which reflects our confidence in the prospects for the local economy,” he said. “We believe that combining Clover’s abilities with our global expertise will provide real opportunities to grow Clover’s dairy and beverage portfolios across sub-Saharan Africa.”
BDS SA spokesman Tisetso Magama said that CBC “has operations in Israel’s illegal settlements – both in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights,” adding that “CBC and its subsidiaries own a regional distribution center in the illegal Israeli Atarot settlement industrial zone, a vineyard near Mount Shifon in the occupied Golan Heights and a dairy farm, as well as offices in the illegal Israeli settlement of Shadmot Mehola in the Jordan Valley – all in violation of international law.”
The anti-Israel organization also warned that “if the deal proceeds, we will actively initiate, support and/or join the call for direct action and a militant but peaceful campaign, including protests and disruptions, against Clover and a boycott of all its products.”
Among other members of the consortium are Brimstone – an investment company which will hold 15% – Ploughshare to hold 11%, IncuBev 8% and Clover management 6%.
Following a meeting between BDS SA and Brimstone on Thursday, the consortium member said it would be reviewing its role in the proposed transaction.
“Having regard to our company’s values-driven identity, we have taken note of the widespread outrage in respect [to] Brimstone’s participation in the proposed purchase of South African company Clover... Brimstone has therefore decided to review its role in the proposed transaction,” it said in a statement. “Accordingly, Brimstone shareholders are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made in this regard.”
BDS SA welcomed Brimstone’s decision, calling it “proactive” for “review[ing] its role in the proposed Clover transaction based on their values,” it said. “[We] believe that South African companies are attractive investment opportunities for global investors and that there will be many alternative investors who are not tainted by the violation of international law and human rights.”
Following Brimstone’s announcement, Clover shares dropped by nearly 10%.
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