Position:Special Report: Japan: Africa

There has been a succession of big agribusiness investments by Japanese companies in Africa over the past few years, often by buying stakes in established operators. They have been attracted by Africa's increasing population and particularly the growing number of middle class people, in 2015, Mitsubishi bought a 20% stake in agri-trader Olam International for $1.1bn. The Singapore-based firm, which trades in a wide variety of commodities, including rice, coffee and cocoa, selected Mitsubishi in a competitive bidding process because it hoped that the Japanese company's processing and manufacturing operations would dovetail with its trading network.

Japan's Sanyo Foods took a 25.5% stake in Olam's instant noodles business in 2013, then 25% equity in Olam's packaged foods business for $187.5m the following year. Its packaged foods operations cover a wide range of goods, including fruit juices, biscuits, tomato puree and seasonings. The two companies are seeking to make use of their respective distribution networks.

In particular, Olam and Sanyo are seeking to build market share in Nigeria. Mahadevan Ramanarayanan, Olam's president and global head of packaged foods, said: "With Sanyo's noodle expertise this meant we could grow the instant noodles business at a much faster rate, bringing out new flavours and new products. In particular, we focused on developing flavours that corresponded to well-loved Nigerian local dishes, coming up with innovative formats in the noodle cake and also how we could make the product more convenient given the Nigerian and Sub-Saharan context."

In March 2018, Mitsui & Co bought a 30% stake in Dubai-based ETG, which...

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