Anti-Israel lobby threatens multi billion rand Clover buy out

A R4.8 billion proposed buyout of South Africa’s biggest dairy company, Clover, by an Israeli-led group is under threat after protests by a pro-Palestinian activist group.

Brimstone, which is part of the bidding group led by Tel Aviv-based Central Bottling, is reviewing its role in the transaction, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Clover shares plunged as much as 9.8%, erasing part of the gains made when the deal was announced three days ago.

“We have taken note of the widespread outrage in respect of Brimstone’s participation in the proposed purchase,” the black-owned South African company said.

The country’s ruling ANC had close ties to the Palestine Liberation Organisation during the apartheid era and Israeli interests are frequently the target of protests in South Africa.

Brimstone says on its website that it has “impeccable empowerment credentials and a values-driven corporate identity”.

The deal was opposed by Boycott Divestment Sanctions South Africa, a group with a history of anti-Israel activity.

“We will actively initiate, support and/or join the call for direct action and a militant but peaceful campaign,” the organisation said. That will include “protests and disruptions against Clover and a boycott of all of its products”.

BDSSA in 2014 led calls for a boycott of Woolworths, an upmarket South African retailer, because of its sale of figs, pretzels and pomegranates imported from Israel.

Woolworths said at the time that some of its customers and staff had been intimidated during protests inside its stores and pig heads were left in some outlets.

The acquiring group offered R25 a share for Clover, compared with a Friday closing price of R20. The investment vehicle is 60% owned by CBC, the owner of Israel’s Coca-Cola franchise. Brimstone’s stake is 15%.

Clover shares traded 4.3% lower at R22 as of 13:27 in Johannesburg.

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