New EXEO Platform Buys Minority Stake In Artisanal Cheese Business

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African mid-market private equity firm EXEO Capital has struck its second deal this year and the third over the last 12 months by investing in The Fairview Cheese Company.

EXEO hasn’t disclosed the amount of investment but it has a sweet spot of $5-15 million. It has routed the deal via a new platform called Nurture Foods, created for backing companies in the convenience and functional food sector.

Fairview was set up in Paarl in the Western Cape province of South Africa in 1980 by the Back family. Since then, it has established itself as the leading artisanal cheese producer in South Africa, producing more than 50 cow’s and goat’s milk cheese varieties. The Back family retains a significant stake in the business.

Louis Lourens, managing director at Fairview, said the investment from Nurture Foods will enable the company to expand its artisanal offer and develop new export markets.

The transaction will also help set up a goat milk supply company, owned by the workers of Fairview.

Riël Malan, executive chairman at Nurture Foods and partner at EXEO Capital, said the deal provides its investors exposure to the defensive convenience and functional food sector.

“Globally, the trend towards greater convenience, functional effects of food and consumer support of artisanal and ethical brands, is gaining momentum. Nurture Foods aims to partner with artisanal brands such as Fairview to achieve greater market penetration, efficiency through technology application and generally to support the platform businesses in growing a larger domestic and export market,” said Malan.

EXEO created Nurture Foods through its food and agribusiness-focussed Agri-Vie Fund II, a private equity investment vehicle that focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa. The PE firm made a final close of this fund at $146 million, up nearly 50% over its predecessor.

In March, EXEO Capital had invested in The Maia Group, the holding firm for Wellness Warehouse and True Health Holdings. This was EXEO Capital’s seventh deal from the Agri-Vie Fund II. In December, it acquired a stake in Glacier Products, the company behind Kenyan ice-cream and chocolate brand Dairyland.

In June, it had exited a legacy investment by selling its majority stake in Cape Olive.
– Capital Quest

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