DLA Piper Advises Phatisa on Meridian Exit

23 Apr 2019

DLA Piper has advised Phatisa, a leading African development and private equity fund manager, and other minority shareholders, on the sale of a controlling shareholding in Meridian Group (Meridian) to Ma’aden, the Saudi Arabian based mining and metals company.

Meridian is an agricultural inputs and fertiliser business operating in Mauritius and Southeast Africa including Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The partnership with Ma’aden will leverage the Saudi-listed company's global presence and integrated supply chain, allowing Meridian to better service the growing demand for fertiliser across the region.

Phatisa initially invested expansion capital into Meridian in 2014 through its African Agriculture Fund (AAF). This enabled the business to accelerate growth and become an integral part of the agricultural value chain for smallholder and commercial farmers across the region. AAF is Africa's first private equity fund solely focussed on the agriculture and food value chain and commenced operations in 2011.

The DLA Piper team was led by Corporate partners Chris Baird and Peter Bradshaw, based in London and Johannesburg, respectively. They were supported by London-based senior associate Liam Freeman and Johannesburg-based associates Lungelo Magubane and Caleb Kipa as well as lawyers from DLA Piper Africa member firms in Mauritius, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Commenting on the deal, partner Chris Baird, said: "We are delighted to have delivered a seamless pan-African service to Phatisa and Meridian. The transaction will help further develop the Meridian distribution networks, providing greater food security across Africa in the long run and helping smallholders to gain access to customised fertiliser brands."

Rinolan Moodley, deal partner at Phatisa commented: ''Meridian exemplifies Phatisa’s ethos of development equity, demonstrating how private equity investments can deliver a tangible and sustainable impact on food security within the continent, as well as driving superior returns for our investors. Our capital and insights were instrumental in developing Meridian’s distribution networks, providing smallholders with access to customised fertiliser blends that continually drove volume growth and resulted in EBITDA tripling over our investment period. Importantly, during this growth trajectory, we positively impacted over 13,000 smallholders – 69% of which were women – with our training programmes and technical assistance facility.''

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