April 17, 2024


Major poultry company in South Africa looks to get loans to stabilise business




Daybreak Farms Ltd., a chicken company controlled by Africa's biggest fund manager, plans to seek loans to stabilise operations and fix its balance sheet following years of mismanagement.


The producer that controls about 7% of South Africa's chicken market was acquired by the Public Investment Corp. nearly a decade ago. The fund manager installed its own management this year after picking up a string of financial irregularities.


Daybreak plans to raise about R250 million (US$13 million) of debt, according to Richard Manzini, a former PIC investment banker who was named chief executive officer of the chicken producer in January. He has been renegotiating inflated contracts arranged by past management teams.


"We need about 18 months to sort out the balance sheet, starting with raising the R250 million in loans," said Manzini in an interview. "Once we have built out a strong balance sheet, the PIC could also consider certain exit options as it usually doesn't hold 100% of an asset."


Frsh funds will be spent on technology upgrades at abattoirs, a water treatment plant and increasing the speed of processing systems, he said. Daybreak supplies its own and contracted broiler farms with day-old chicks, which are raised and sold as fresh and frozen whole chickens or portions.


After this initial debt deal and the restructuring of the company, additional cash could be raised to build out operations.


"The mission is to get Daybreak, that employs 3,400 people, back to a strong market position," Manzini said.


Growth in the industry could come from acquisitions, he said. "If there is an opportunity for deals in the near future, we will try and see what works for us."


Fresh chicken portions have become popular due to frequent electricity outages in South Africa, and Daybreak is re-equipping one abattoir to focus on a fresh-product mix, taking processing from 1.5 million chickens a week to about 1.9 million chickens a week in the medium term, Manzini said.


Challenges for Daybreak include an increase in feed prices and a recent outbreak in bird flu. Bringing down costs is essential to the company's turn-around, Manzini added.

- Bloomberg

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