Brimstone to exit SA dairy deal on anti-Israel pressure

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The Brimstone Investment Corporation will exit a deal led by an Israeli company to buy South Africa’s biggest dairy producer after protests by a pro-Palestinian activist group.

The investment-holding firm is in “advanced talks” with a replacement shareholder that could see it exiting its entire shareholding in Milco SA - the entity that has offered R4.8bn deal to buy Clover Industries - by the end of the year, it said in a statement Friday.

The Central Bottling Company, based in Tel Aviv, is leading the transaction along and is the biggest shareholder in Milco. A CBC unit will buy Brimstone’s interest on December 31, if it hasn’t found an alternative investor by then, the South African company said.

The ANC had close ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization 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 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.

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