Ownership of oil palm giant Presco returns to Nigeria after 33-year Belgian control
Premium Times | 18 March 2024

Ownership of oil palm giant Presco returns to Nigeria after 33-year Belgian control

By Ronald Adamolekun 

Oil palm powerhouse Presco switched ownership from long-time investor Siat N.V, based in Brussels, Belgium, which had held on to the company’s majority control for well over three decades until the start of this month.

Fimave N.V., holder of 86.7 per cent of the total issued shares of Siat, which owned a 60 per cent interest in Presco, consummated a deal shifting that stake to Oak and Saffron Limited, the oil palm processor said in a regulatory note.

Oak and Saffron, PREMIUM TIMES check with Corporate Affairs Commission shows, is backed by Rasheed Sarumi, founder, owner and managing director of Saro Africa International, an agribusiness group whose subsidiaries include Gossy Warm Springs, Saro Agrosciences, Saro Oil Palms and Saro Lifecare.

Oak and Saffron is “established for oil palm, rubber and horticulture businesses” and “intends to keep Presco Plc Plc listed on the NGX,” Presco stated in the document. Yet, the company has little or no online presence, with no website.

The document said the transaction is “strategic” for Oak and Saffron, especially “its long-term commitment to developing the oil palm and rubber industries in West Africa and the horticulture industry in China, Belgium and the United States.”

The takeover moves the control of approximately 50,000 hectares of currently-cultivated oil palms on a plantation able to produce 100,000 metric tons of palm kernel oil, crude palm oil and natural rubber in thousands of metric tons every year to the new investor.

Benin City-based Presco is the country’s biggest fully integrated agro-industrial palm processor, GCR Ratings says. In addition to six oil palm plantations are a palm kernel crushing plant, palm oil milling facilities and vegetable oil refining & fractionation plants.

Siat has been operating in Nigeria since 1991 when it bought the government-owned Obaretin Estate, then comprising 2,700 hectares of cultivated area.

Last March, it was fingered in a report by Journalismfund Europe for polluting the groundwater of its host community in Rivers State where the company acquired the assets of Risonpalm, a smaller rival owned by the state.

Such sustainability issues and others like deforestation and land grab for oil palm production are generating heated debates on the need for the industrial oil palm industry to adhere to high environmental, social and governance (ESG)principles.

That is compelling activists and environmentalists to demand strict criteria for how an organisation like Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil issues, of which Siat is a member, issues badges of approval to companies they deem to be environmentally responsible.

Presco ended 2023 reporting a 27.3 per cent growth in revenue, and its net profit, at N30.4 billion, more than three times higher than the previous year’s.

Total assets rose to N171.7 billion from N132.4 billion a year earlier, according to its unaudited earnings report.

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