Court upholds Agricultural Employers’ Organisation’s deregistration appeal

the Agricultural Employers’ Organisation (AEO) appeal against its deregistration was upheld with costs by Judge Molahlehi in the Labour Court last month.
Issue date : 12 September 2008

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the Agricultural Employers’ Organisation (AEO) appeal against its deregistration was upheld with costs by Judge Molahlehi in the Labour Court last month. This brought an end to the dispute between the AEO and the of Relations that has been raging since 2004. Despite receiving a full memorandum by the AEO the Registrar had simply deregistered the AEO as an employers organisation in December 2005.

When the AEO’s urgent application to stay registered was granted, pending the hearing of the appeal, the Registrar’s legal representatives failed to cooperate in finalising the appeal. I n the end the AEO made an application to the that the be compelled to lodge a written reply to the appeal under oath. The agreed to this but then simply ignored the court order.

On 6 August counsel acting on behalf of the AEO, Advocate P Ellis SC and BC Stoop, applied to the court for an order to uphold the appeal without any further opportunity for the Registrar to oppose. Neither the nor his legal advisers attended the hearing and Judge granted the order with costs. “is an important breakthrough for the AEO,” says Johan Rademeyer, chairperson of the AEO. “We can now function again as an undisputed, credible employers’ organisation, as has been the case since our establishment, to provide our members with legal advice and act on their behalf in any labour disputes before the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration.” – Hans Lombard

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Sanlam launches new R700 million agri-equity fund

A new R700 million private equity fund targeting the agribusiness sector across sub-Saharan Africa was recently launched by Sanlam Private Equity and the investment group Strategy Partners. The Agri-Vie Fund will focus on entrepreneurs involved in the agribusiness value chain, rather than directly involved in the farming industry. It offers an opportunity for potential investors to tap into this growing African market and gives strategic assistance to the owners of agribusinesses. he fund recently had its first close at R330 million.

 Initial investors included the insurance industry and development finance institutions such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) through the Risk Capital Facility – a fund established by the European Community and the government of SA, and managed by the IDC – and the US-based Kellogg Foundation. The fund is open to other investors until May 2009. ieter Kriel, chief executive of Sanlam Equity, said that agribusiness is the mainstay of the economy in most sub-Saharan countries.

“On average the gross domestic products in sub-Saharan Africa have grown by between 6% and 7% in the past three years and the number of democracies has more than doubled since 1999. The resultant effect is that these countries offer exceptional opportunities for investors.” he fund will look at businesses which offer value-added components along the agribusiness value chain. “We will not invest in farms, but rather in the processing and marketing of farming outputs such as food, certain beverages and fibre products,” explained Kriel. “Expanding the industry it will ultimately create new growth opportunities for existing and emerging farmers.” In addition, Agri-Vie’s mandate includes investment into ecotourism in the context of integrated rural development.

Agri-Vie investors have appointed an active management structure, led by Herman Marais of Strategy Partners, which consists of members from Sanlam Private Equity and a women-led agricultural investment group, Makotulo Agricultural Company, among others. M arais said that Agri-Vie is a true business partner for agribusiness entrepreneurs. “The fund contributes risk capital and management know-how to fully unlock businesses’s potential.” – Staff reporter