Last round for McLachlan

Finweek English Edition - - Openers - MARC HASENFUSS

CON­TROL OF SOUTH AFRICA’S only “tequila maker” – Agave Dis­tillers – has changed hands af­ter the Graaff-Reinet-based group again failed to de­liver on its prom­ise to se­cure ma­jor prof­its from ex­port con­tracts. In a terse email to Fin­week, Agave CEO Keith McLachlan ad­vised: “The McLachlan Fam­ily Trust, through its in­vest­ment com­pany Be-All In­vest­ments, sold its shares and loan ac­count in Agave Dis­tillers Ltd as of 1 Novem­ber 2006 in or­der for me to pur­sue other in­ter­ests.”

Fin­week has es­tab­lished that a part­ner­ship headed by Jan Terblanche, CEO of ven­ture cap­i­tal fund-rais­ing spe­cial­ists Cap­i­tal Com­mit­ments, has ac­quired the shares and loan ac­count in Agave.

It’s not known how much the Terblanche part­ner­ship paid for the Be-All In­vest­ments hold­ing – but it’s es­ti­mated that the com­bined stake held by Terblanche and Cap­i­tal Com­mit­ments in Agave could top 65%.

McLachlan, a for­mer Di­men­sion Data ex­ec­u­tive, bought con­trol of Agave – then trad­ing as Reinet Dis­tillers – in the late Nineties when the busi­ness had slipped into liq­ui­da­tion.

The busi­ness – one of the more prom­i­nent un­listed shares in SA – promised to gen­er­ate se­ri­ous rev­enue from dis­till­ing blue agava (a spirit very sim­i­lar to tequila) from the sur­feit of “gar­ing­bome” scat­tered around the Graaff-Reinet area.

De­spite a world­wide short­age of tequila and strong in­ter­na­tional de­mand for the prod­uct, Agave couldn’t cap­i­talise on ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties. Last year the group was rais­ing fresh fund­ing from the pub­lic – iron­i­cally, via Cap­i­tal Com­mit­ments – to pur­sue new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in North Amer­ica and other coun­tries.

In the five years since 2000, Agave has gen­er­ated a com­bined turnover of less than R8m, which yielded a com­bined loss of R10m over the same pe­riod. It seems clear that 2006 was an­other dis­ap­point­ing year for Agave.

How­ever, Terblanche re­mains pos­i­tive con­cern­ing the busi­ness. “We think this is a busi­ness ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing prof­its of R20m/ year. So far we’ve started to clean up the com­pany and have taken down the over­heads markedly.”

Terblanche says that Agave is a busi­ness with mar­ginal in­put costs. “The raw prod­uct costs be­tween R80 to R120/t…”

Pos­i­tive about the prospects. Jan Terblanche

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.