Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

1 February 2013

Namibia: Agra Finally Goes Public

Agricultural retailer, Agra will officially convert from a cooperation to a limited company this Friday, 01 February.

The company, which started with a few farmers in the 1980s, now boasts of 4507 members. In its first three years, Agra's total turnover was said to be below N$100 million per year, but it has since grown to N$150 million per month while profit before tax stood at N$44 million in the last financial year.

Agra CEO, Peter Kazmaier, said the conversion provides shareholders with a say in the running of the business based on their investment in the company. He added that the conversion will also provide an incentive to shareholders to support the business, thereby increasing the value of their investment.

As a result of the conversion, Agra will now hand over share certificates to members who will become shareholders of Agra Limited. Beginning Monday 04 February, Agra's Executive Committee will visit branches across the country until Friday 15 February to assist with the handing out of share certificates to members.

As from Monday, 18 February, share certificates that will not have been collected, will be available at Agra's Head Office. The trading of shares will start on the same date. According to Kazmaier, although Agra will not be listed on any stock exchange, the trading of shares will happen through an over the counter market service offered by the Namibia Stock Exchange.

The Agra CEO said the agricultural retailer is still dependent on weather patterns. He said adapting the business concept to these unforeseeable weather patterns was and still is one of the greatest challenges to be overcome in ensuring the long term existence of the company.

He added: "It is also important to ensure that additional income streams which are not directly related to agriculture are obtained, in order to contribute to Agra's sustainability in years of drought, low livestock prices or any other agricultural problem."

Chairman of the Board of Agra, Ryno van der merwe said Agra is the largest agricultural business with 18 retail branches, livestock services throughout the country and a professional service that has already established itself as an imperative service provider and role player to develop agriculture in Namibia. "Agra is thus an indispensible partner in the agricultural sector and the Namibian economy to create employment, offer training, support projects and provide products and services to clients," van der merwe highlighted.

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