A minute for your Feedback please

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Karuturi Global Africa agriculture foray-goldmine or landmine?

Earlier this year, I blogged about Karuturi Global's foray into Africa and its professed noble goals of meeting African food security etc (http://financeandcapitalmarkets.blogspot.com/2011/03/meeting-food-security-in-africanot-from.html). Since then, many things have changed which I thought should be highlighted in this post, for readers to take a balanced view
  1. Water Wars:-The 5 upstream nations sharing Nile waters, entered into a treaty to improve their share of Nile waters, contrary to the historical preferential rights of Egypt and Sudan. While Egypt and Ethiopia are trying to resolve this(http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/09/23/Egypt-Ethiopia-mull-Nile-dams-dispute/UPI-28691316789638/), there is bound to be disputes and lack of clarity, which would hit investor sentiments
  2. Land grab accusations grabbing momentum:-Karuturi's deal is held up as the perfect example of a sweetheart deal by activists, who overlook the capex it has to incur. But in case the Arab spring reaches Ethiopia resulting in a regime change, then I would not be too optimistic about the fate of Karuturi. Even its MIGA guarantees will not compensate much for loss of profits. 
  3. Investors shunning risk:-With the turmoil in USA/EU, Karuturi would be hardpressed to find financing for expanding in the way it wished. Ditto for getting JV partners for food processing and storage. The way things are going, its completed sowing may be the peakk output
  4. Climate risk:-Karuturi lost its first corn crops when around 12000 acres were flooded this year. The loss of $15MM was around 1/5th of the company's market cap at that time(http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/34462) . Given the rising risk of climate change, such shocks may only increase in the years to come. 
Of the 4 risks, I would rate expropriation and climate risk as the main two factors, and it would be interested to see how the company deals with these risks. 

No comments: