The acquisition of an African fertilizer distribution company by Ma’aden, the largest Saudi mining company, will advance Ma’aden’s Strategy 2025, which includes plans to expand operations in the Kingdom and grow sales globally. The acquisition will also support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the economy, increase non-oil exports, boost the Kingdom’s non-oil GDP, and reinforce the mining sector as the third pillar of Saudi industry, after oil and gas and petrochemicals.
Ma’aden will make its first international acquisition with the purchase of the Mauritius-based Meridian Group, which is due to be completed by September for an undisclosed fee.
The publicly-listed Saudi mining company will acquire an 85 percent stake in the company 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 crops 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 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 to 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 1 billion people, is experiencing increased demand for phosphate fertilizers which industry analysts expect to continue growing by 5 percent 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, Ma’aden’s senior vice president for phosphate. “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 percent of Meridian’s equity over four 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 adviser on the deal and Baker McKenzie was the Saudi company’s legal adviser for this acquisition.