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Huge boost for Lesotho trout farming

STAFF REPORTER

MASERU – Lesotho’s crucial aquaculture industry has been boosted by an investment into SanLei, a leading aquaculture company headquartered in Lesotho. The transaction positions SanLei to accelerate its expansion towards becoming the largest trout operation of its kind in Africa. The company supplies premium trout to regional and offshore markets while creating jobs and contributing to food security in Lesotho. Sanlei currently sustains 90 jobs in Lesotho but with the planned expansion of the production facilities over the next two to three years, this number is expected to double.

The capital restructuring of SanLei was undertaken by One Thousand & One Voices, a private family capital fund backed exclusively by industry-leading families largely from the USA. As part of the transaction, Mergence Investment Managers (Lesotho) (Pty) Ltd acquired a significant but minority interest in SanLei on behalf of the Basotho.

SanLei is located on the shores of the Katse Dam in the remote highlands of Lesotho, a site known for its deep, pristine waters and highly favourable environment for growing premium trout. SanLei is a vertically integrated processor of trout located on the Katse Dam in Lesotho, and loosely translated from Japanese, the name “SanLei” means “where the mountains meet the sky.”

Speaking to Public Eye this week Semoli Mokhanoi, Director SADC & Head of Distribution at Mergence Investment Managers (Lesotho), expressed excitement towards the new venture. “We are excited about what the future holds for this Lesotho company. With the benefit of a strong Lesotho-based shareholder in its capital structure, SanLei is on a firm footing to further accelerate international opportunities, thereby benefiting the Kingdom of Lesotho and its people,” Mokhanoi said.

Meanwhile, SanLei’s Chief Executive Officer, Krijn Resoort, has also hailed the move to rope Basotho into the capital structure. “With Basotho in the capital structure, we believe SanLei is even better positioned than before for continued growth and expansion, which will allow us return capital to the investing families,” Krijn said.

Mergence Investment Managers is an independent asset manager founded in 2004 with capability across both listed and unlisted investments – spanning equity, debt, multi-asset class, private equity and infrastructure funds, whose clients are largely institutional, with a growing offering for individual investors. Mergence works throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Windhoek, Maseru and Mbabane.

The announcement coincides with the recent release of the Ocean and Coastal Fishing and Fish Farming in South Africa 2020 report which notes that with natural fish resources declining while demand for fish continues to grow, aquaculture is becoming increasingly important. According to a 2018 article in Farmers Weekly, for the purposes of aquaculture, trout can consume artificial feed from day one, and can be mass reared at high densities, grow rapidly and can be harvested inside a year.

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