Ariston's $8m rights offer

The cash-strapped Ariston Holdings Limited intends to raise $8million by March 23 through its Rights Offer that opened this week.

South Africa's Afrifresh Holdings Limited has already said it will underwrite the offer.The Afrifresh Group was founded in South Africa in 1992 as an import business to supply retailers with "out of season" fruit.The firm has implemented a long-term growth strategy.

They own 17 farming entities, which operate 22 farms and two independent pack houses in excess of 20 000 hectares.Afrifresh exports to 54 countries worldwide and has international offices in The Netherlands, Czech republic, Chile, Spain and China.

The new Ariston shares will be allocated on March 21.The diversified company is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and last year made a shocking $2 million loss. It blamed bad business operations, mainly in its agricultural subsidiaries in the Eastern Highlands.

The Ariston Board, currently led by prominent business personality and commercial farmer,Dr Robbie Mupawose, said the $8 million Rights Offer would help to re-capitalise the company.

The deal was approved by shareholders in Harare on Tuesday at Royal Harare Golf Club where the company held an Extraordinary General Meeting.

The agreement between Afrifresh and Ariston was signed on February 14 whenAfrifresh agreed to underwrite the offer in compliance with ZSE requirements.

"The ability of the Group to continue as a going concern is dependent on the entity obtaining finance and the implemetation of effective operational strategies," said chartered accountants Deloitte and Touche International Limited in their report on the struggling ZSE-listed entity.

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