3 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Interfresh Closes in On Deal

ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed (ZSE) horticultural concern, Interfresh Limited, was this week reportedly close to a deal that could bring in new investors into the business, The Financial Gazette's Companies & Markets (C&M) can report. Interfresh recently issued a cautionary statement announcing that there was an impending transaction which could affect its share price.

The identity of Interfresh's new partners could not be immediately established but analysts expected that the group could be in talks with foreigners. Interfresh, which narrowed its pre-tax profit to US$818 000 during the half-year ended June 30, 2012, from US$1,1 million during the same time in 2011, reported a considerable strain on working capital during the period.

Recent cautionary statements did not disclose if the negative working capital position had driven the firm to hunt for fresh funding.

However, it is possible that chief executive officer (CEO), Lishon Chipango, could be positioning the group to take advantage of expected economic growth by roping in cash-rich investors to fortify his balance sheet.

During the half year to June 30, 2012, current assets at US$5,5 million were about US$400 000 lower that the group's current liabilities, which closed the period at US$5,9 million.

Chipango has already registered positive results from a decision to dispose of loss-making units, the group's head office and its warehouse complex in Harare.

Interfresh's revenue from continuing operations climbed by 27 percent to US$3,2 million, from US$2,5 million during the prior comparative period in 2011.

This week, Chipango declined to disclose the nature of the transaction under consideration, but market watchers told C&M that a deal could be possible in about 10 to 14 days.

To C10 From C1

"ZSE regulations do not allow us to disclose such information, it is premature" Chipango said.

In October, Interfresh had cautioned shareholders: "Further to previously issued cautionary announcements, the directors of Interfresh Limited wish to advise all shareholders that discussions are still in progress which, if successfully concluded, may have a materials effect on the company's business and share price. Accordingly, shareholders are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the company's share".

Interfresh is in the business of producing, processing and marketing agricultural, horticultural, agro-industrial and allied food products in both the local and export markets.

The company has three strategic divisions namely, Citrus, Flowers and Trading, each with a specific and autonomous area of focus.

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