U.S. firm to invest in agriculture in South Sudan

Sudan Tribune | Saturday 3 January 2009

January 2, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — A privately held U.S. investment firm entered into an agricultural investment with a company controlled by the son of a South Sudanese general.

Jarch Management Group, Ltd, which is registered in the Virgin Islands, is managed by commodities traders and former State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials, among others.

The investment group announced that it has purchased a 70% interest, by way of sub-participation, in a company incorporated in Juba, the capital of the autonomous region of Southern Sudan. This company, Leac for Agriculture and Investment Company Limited, is controlled by Gabriel Matip, the eldest son of General Paulino Matip Nhial, deputy commander-in-chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

In addition, Jarch has leased a large tract of farmland in Mayom county of Unity State.

“Jarch has leased approximately 400,000 hectares gross of prime farmland from General Paulino Matip. In addition, Jarch will acquire more farm land within Southern Sudan,” said a statement issued by the investment group.

The statement also noted that Mayom county, where the farmland was leased, contains some mineral resources, for which contracts will be executed by the Government of Southern Sudan in early 2009.

A number of commanders of the SPLA are members of Jarch’s advisory board. These figures are drawn particularly from influential members of the former insurgency in Nuerland, including Paulino Matip and Peter Gadet. Notably, Vice-President Riek Machar and Major General Gulwak Deng were also invited to join the advisory board.

Through Gabriel Matip’s company, Jarch Capital will have the right to grow products including cereals, oil seeds, vegetables, fruits, and flowers and can process these raw commodities for both local and export use, given the approval of the southern government’s Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development.

While U.S. companies are banned from doing business in Sudan, which the U.S. considers a state sponsor of terrorism, agriculture in Southern Sudan is exempted from sanctions provided that the Khartoum-based national government does not have any stake in the business and provided that no imports or exports pass through non-exempt areas.

“Jarch will only deal in Southern Sudan and will not involve any entity from the Government of Sudan,” said the company statement.

The privately-held firm operates in Africa to extract natural resources. The company is chaired by Philippe Heilberg, who during the 1990s worked in the commodities division of American International Group, a giant American financial company that nearly collapsed in 2008.

“Jarch continues to see tremendous opportunities in South Sudan as it continues to emerge to realize its full potential,” noted the investment group, which will look for a partner to help it maximize the value of this opportunity.

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