Ma’aden makes first international acquisition to bolster market share in Africa

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RIYADH —Saudi Arabia’s largest mining company, Ma’aden, will make its first international acquisition with the purchase of an African Fertilizer distribution company that is due to be completed by September for an undisclosed fee.

The publicly-listed Saudi Arabian Mining Company will acquire an 85% stake in the Mauritius-based Meridian Group in an all cash deal that will provide one of the Middle East’s largest phosphate producers with 3,000 staff and a network of operations across southern Africa, from Malawi to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Phosphate is used to produce fertilizer that is essential in replacing the phosphorous mineral that is removed from soil when agricultural plants are harvested.

“This acquisition marks a very important step in Ma’aden’s strategy to build global distribution channels for our fertilizer products,” said Darren Davis, president and chief executive officer of Ma’aden. “As we continue to build one of the largest producers and exporters of phosphate fertilizers in the world, ensuring an efficient route to key growth markets is critical to our success.”

Agriculture forms a significant portion of the economies of all African countries. As a sector, it can therefore contribute towards major continental priorities, such as eradicating poverty and hunger. The agri industry can also boost intra-Africa trade and investments, rapid industrialization and economic diversification, sustainable resource and environmental management, and create jobs, human security and shared prosperity.

The southeast African market, like most of the African continent of one billion people, is witnessing increased demand for phosphate fertilizers that industry analysts expect to continue growing by 5% annually over the next decade, fueled by population growth and increasing education in the use of fertilizers.

“Ma’aden is acquiring unparalleled access to complementary distribution, blending and product development capabilities in this fast-growth region,” said Hassan Al-Ali, senior vice president for phosphate at Ma’aden. “This transaction will provide us with logistics advantages in Southeast Africa, and greater knowledge of on-the-ground customer requirements, both of which will be instrumental in better serving our customers.”

The Saudi global mining giant will secure the remaining 15% of Meridian’s equity over 4 years on agreed terms linked to the performance of the African company, which distributes approximately half-a-million tons of fertilizer through its network of granulation and blending plants, warehousing complexes and port facilities.

HSBC acted as Ma’aden’s financial advisor on the deal, and Baker McKenzie was the Saudi company's legal advisor for this pioneering acquisition. — SG


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