Many more fish to fry in fu­ture

Se­vere dam­age caused by red tide last year af­fected what ap­pears to be a well­run and promis­ing busi­ness

Financial Mail - - MONEY&INVESTING - Marc Hasen­fuss hasen­[email protected]­soblack­

The lat­est an­nual re­port by un­listed abalone farm­ing ven­ture Abagold might find in­ter­est out­side its small pool of pub­lic share­hold­ers.

Abalone farm­ing, and aqua­cul­ture in gen­eral, has drawn at­ten­tion at Jse-listed fish­ing en­ter­prises this year. African Eq­uity & Em­pow­er­ment In­vest­ments-con­trolled Premier Fish­ing & Brands is in the throes of a ma­jor ex­pan­sion of its Gans­baai abalone farm, while Brim­stonecon­trolled Sea Har­vest snagged a ma­jor share of Vik­ing Fish­ing’s di­ver­si­fied aqua­cul­ture of­fer­ing. The JSE’S big fish, Oceana Group, has also sig­nalled its in­ten­tion to trawl for aqua­cul­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties, and there has been much pon­der­ing around the fu­ture of Avi-con­trolled I&J’S size­able abalone en­ter­prise.

In­creased in­ter­est in Abagold is prob­a­bly fol­low­ing the com­pany’s de­ter­mined at­tempts to re­build its pro­duc­tion pipe­line af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing red tide in­ci­dent at its Her­manus farm in early 2017.

The im­me­di­ate re­sponse to this event was to in­tro­duce “ad­verse wa­ter qual­ity” plants, which chair Hen­nie van der Merwe says sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces the po­ten­tial im­pact of an­other red tide event. But look­ing at the longer term, Abagold stresses that the les­sons from the in­ci­dent made it clear that fur­ther di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, ge­o­graph­i­cally and in prod­uct of­fer­ing, is crit­i­cal to sus­tain­able suc­cess.

The com­pany now has an up­dated man­i­festo. It reads: “Abagold, the in­te­grated and sus­tain­able agribusi­ness with core com­pe­tency in and fo­cus on aqua­cul­ture and a di­ver­si­fied global foot­print, de­liv­er­ing premium-qual­ity prod­ucts through in­no­va­tion, brand­ing and part­ner­ships.”

The man­i­festo ap­pears de­lib­er­ately ope­nended, leav­ing plenty of scope for Abagold’s di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion thrust — pos­si­bly even to

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