April 12, 2019 / 12:01 PM / 4 months ago

S.Africa's Brimstone quits Clover buyout after anti-Israel pressure

JOHANNESBURG, April 12 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Brimstone Investment Corporation said it was pulling out of a proposed 4.8 billion rand ($345 million) buyout of dairy firm Clover Industries, amid opposition from an anti-Israel group.

It has a 15 percent stake in Milco SA, the consortium offering to buy Clover, which is headed by Israeli beverage firm Central Bottling Company (CBC).

Brimstone said on Friday it was in advanced negotiations with an investor to take over its role, and another partner in the consortium would acquire its stake if it had not found a suitable replacement by the end of this year.

The South African investment firm pulled out after criticism of its involvement from pressure group Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS SA).

Shares in Clover, which processes products including yoghurt and olive oil, initially slipped around 2 percent but had recovered by 1253 GMT to stand at 23.23 rand, down 0.51 percent on Thursday’s close. Brimstone shares, which often go days without trading, had not yet traded.

A representative for Clover said the firm had no comment on the news while, in Jerusalem, CBC was not immediately available for comment.

Brimstone said in a stock exchange filing that it was in talks regarding the Milco stake with a “potential replacement B-BBEE shareholder” - meaning a broad-based black economic empowerment investor that, like Brimstone itself, would be majority black-controlled and managed.

If it has not found a suitable replacement by December, it has secured a backstop agreement with one of the other partners, International Beer Breweries Limited, to then acquire Brimstone’s entire stake.

$1 = 13.9685 rand Reporting by Emma Rumney; Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Editing by John Stonestreet

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