6 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Agricultural Firm Hopes to Evade Loss

AGRICULTURAL concern, Ariston Holdings, remains optimistic of returning to profitability this year despite registering a loss of US$531 648 last year.

In results for the year ending September 30 2012, the company secretary, Faith Musinga, said although performance improved during the period under review, the group failed to achieve the anticipated levels of activity in almost all areas. She said although the agricultural sector of the entity performed well, the trading business incurred a financial loss as a result of control deficiencies.

Ariston Holdings last year concluded a US$8 million rights offer which was underwritten by South Africa-based Afrifresh, which became a key shareholder in the company after the capital-raising exercise.

The capital injection was channelled towards trading at the expense of farming operations.

"In the run up to the capital raise, the shareholders availed bridging finance," she said. "Soon after the injection of funds, the group embarked on numerous capital projects."

Musinga added that the benefits of the investments would only be fully realised in the years ahead.

However, Musinga said the company looks set to return to profitability this year as significant increases in production is expected across all operations.

"Early season tea quality and thus prices are much improved . . . irrigation rehabilitation on all farms has given operations improved control with positive results in tea gardens, as well as macadamia and apple orchards," she said.

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