FERONIA INC. ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – August 23, 2016: Feronia Inc. (“Feronia” or the “Company”) (TSX-V: FRN) today announces changes to its Board of Directors.
Feronia is pleased to announce that Mr. Frank Braeken, currently an independent, non-executive director of the Company, has been appointed Non-Executive Chairman. Mr. Braeken has extensive experience in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector including 26 years spent with Unilever where he lived and worked in nine countries on four continents. In 2009, Mr. Braeken became head of Unilever’s Namca region with responsibility for markets across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Africa. In 2011, Mr. Braeken became head of Unilever Africa where he had overall responsibility for the US$3 billion operation.
Mr. Ravi Sood, previously Executive Chairman, will remain with the Company as Executive Director.
Feronia is also pleased to announce the appointment of four new Non-Executive Directors namely: Mr. Nicholas Thompson CBE, Mrs. Monique Gieskes, Mr. David Osborne and Mr. David Easton.
Nick Thompson CBE, is the former CEO of New Britain Palm Oil (NBPOL) and brings a wealth of palm oil industry experience to the Feronia Board. During his 21 years as Managing Director/CEO of NBPOL, Nick was instrumental in its transformation from a modest 15,400 ha oil palm plantation into a world class producer of certified and sustainable palm oil and the largest single employer in Papua New Guinea. In 2007 Nick lead the Company to a successful listing on the London Stock Exchanges and in 2010 the Company built a palm oil refinery in Liverpool, UK - the first refinery in the world to be dedicated to sustainable and traceable palm oil. Nick stepped down as CEO of NBPOL in 2015 following its US$1.7 billion acquisition by Sime Darby Plantations.
Mrs. Monique Gieskes was born in Kinshasa and educated in Belgium and the USA. For more than 30 years Monique’s career has been focused on managerial, commercial and legal affairs in Africa, Europe and Asia. In 2008, she launched the operations of the Vlisco Group in the DRC and, within just a few years, took it from a start-up business into an iconic luxury goods company with a large distribution network and flagship stores throughout central Africa. Since 2015, Monique has been Regional Director of Vlisco’s Central African cluster and a member of the Vlisco Group Executive Committee. Until 2014 Monique was also a board member at the FEC, the Fédération des Entreprises du Congo, the key group representing the interests of businesses operating in the DRC.
Mr. David Easton and Mr. David Osborne also join the Feronia Board as representatives of CDC Group Plc, the UK Government’s Development Finance Institution and Feronia’s largest shareholder.
David Easton is an Investment Director and Head of Consumer Businesses at CDC Group Plc. David led CDC’s initial investment in Feronia in 2013 and leads CDC’s investment programme across agribusiness, retail, healthcare and education investing in many industry-leading companies across Africa and South Asia.
David Osborne is a director and Head of Portfolio Management at CDC Group Plc. Prior to joining CDC he spent 24 years at 3i Group plc in both London and Singapore. He ran the Islamic Infrastructure Fund and was a managing partner at CapAsia, an emerging Asian infrastructure fund manager.
Mr. Keith Alexander and Mr. Joel Strickland will be stepping down as Non-Executive Directors of the Company although Mr. Alexander will remain as Chairman of the Company’s Environmental, Social and Governance Board Committee.
Frank Braeken, Chairman of Feronia commented: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to become Chairman of Feronia and I look forward to building on all that has been achieved over the last seven years and leading the Company through the next exciting phase of its development. I would like to thank our founder Ravi Sood for his hard work as Chairman over the last 8 years. With his experience and knowledge, it is a huge positive that he will continue on the Board of Feronia as an Executive Director. “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Nick, Monique, David and David to the Board. In Nick we have someone with almost unparalleled experience in the palm oil industry and likewise Monique when it comes to building and running businesses in the DRC and Africa. I am sure that their addition to the Board will prove hugely beneficial. As an organisation we have known David Easton and David Osborne for some time and I welcome them to the Board. In CDC we have an extremely supportive shareholder and the addition of their representatives to our Board will only further our ability to leverage their expertise and support.
“Finally I would like to thank Keith and Joel for their contributions as Non-Executive Directors and I am extremely pleased that Keith has agreed to continue as Chairman of the ESG Board Committee. Such continuity is important as we continue to work towards RSPO Certification in 2017.”
Following these changes the Board of Directors of Feronia Inc. will consist of the following individuals:
Frank Braeken – Independent Non-Executive Chairman
Xavier de Carniere - Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director
Ravi Sood – Executive Director
Monique Gieskes – Independent Non-Executive Director
Nicholas Thompson CBE – Independent Non-Executive Director
Nigel Gourlay – Independent Non-Executive Director
David Osborne – CDC Group Plc Nominee, Non-Executive Director
David Easton – CDC Group Plc Nominee, Non-Executive Director
Peter Van As – Phatisa Nominee, Non-Executive Director
David White – Phatisa Nominee, Independent Non-Executive Director
The above noted changes to the Board are subject to the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange.
Feronia is also pleased to announce that, effective as of August 18, 2016, it has continued from the Province of Ontario to the Province of British Columbia. The continuance was approved by a special resolution of shareholders at the annual and special meeting of shareholders held on June 20, 2016.
The Company also announces that it has approved the grant of 6,938,800 deferred share units (“DSUs”) to each of Mr. de Carniere, CEO of the Company, and Mr. Steel, CFO of the Company. Under the terms of the DSU award agreements, 10% of the DSUs granted will vest on the first day of September 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 and up to an additional 10% of the DSUs granted may vest on the first day of January 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 subject to achieving certain performance targets to be determined by the Compensation Committee of the Company. The full text of the DSU plan is set out in the Company's management information circular dated May 17, 2016 which is filed under the Company's SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com. The DSU Plan is intended to enhance the Company's ability to attract and retain talented individuals to serve as directors, officers and employees by allowing such individuals to participate in the long-term success of the Company and to promote a greater alignment of interests between such individuals and the shareholders of the Company.
For further information please contact:
Xavier de Carniere Chief Executive Officer, Feronia Inc. 44 (0)7468 697 658 firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Dulieu Director of Communications and Corporate Development, Feronia Inc. 44 (0)7554 521421 email@example.com
About Feronia Inc.
Feronia is an agribusiness operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
At the heart of Feronia lies a long established palm oil business, Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC), which has three remotely located plantations; Lokutu, Yaligimba and Boteka. We also have an arable farming operation which grows and processes rice.
When Feronia acquired its palm oil business from Unilever in 2009, it had suffered from years of underinvestment and considerable disruption caused by conflict in the DRC. Our initial focus has been on rebuilding the business and resuming production to secure its future and the livelihoods of the 3,800+ people we directly employ.
Feronia’s plantations produce crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel oil (PKO). CPO is part of the staple and traditional diet of the Congolese and, with our products sold locally in the DRC, we are well placed to help decrease reliance on imports and increase food security and quality.
Feronia prides itself on being the guardian of our 105 year-old palm oil business and its employees, communities, and environment. We have a long term commitment to improve the living and working environment of our employees and their communities and are committed to sustainable agriculture, environmental protection and community inclusion. Feronia has in place an Environmental and Social Action Plan which is focused on implementing environmental and social best practice and improving social infrastructure.
Feronia is working towards certification by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and is implementing IFC/World Bank standards for environmental and social sustainability. Our oil palm replanting programme is brownfield in nature – replacing old palms with new – and it has no reliance on deforestation.
Feronia’s management team is comprised of senior agriculturalists with extensive experience in managing both plantations and farming operations in emerging markets.
For more information please see www.feronia.com
Except for statements of historical fact contained herein, the information in this press release constitutes “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian securities law. Such forward-looking information may be identified by words such as “anticipates”, “plans”, “proposes”, “estimates”, “intends”, “expects”, “believes”, “may” and “will”. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate; actual results and future events could differ materially from such statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, among others: risks related to foreign operations (including various political, economic and other risks and uncertainties), the interpretation and implementation of the “Loi Portant Principes Fondamentaux Relatifs A L’Agriculture”, termination or non-renewal of concession rights or expropriation of property rights, political instability and bureaucracy, limited operating history, lack of profitability, lack of infrastructure in the DRC, high inflation rates, limited availability of debt financing in the DRC, fluctuations in currency exchange rates, competition from other businesses, reliance on various factors (including local labour, importation of machinery and other key items and business relationships), the Company’s reliance on one major customer, lower productivity at the Company’s plantations and arable farming operations, risks related to the agricultural industry (including adverse weather conditions, shifting weather patterns, and crop failure due to infestations), a shift in commodity trends and demands, vulnerability to fluctuations in the world market, the lack of availability of qualified management personnel and stock market volatility. Details of the risk factors relating to Feronia and its business are discussed under the heading “Risks and Uncertainties” in Feronia’s Management’s discussion and Analysis for the year ended December 31, 2015, a copy of which is available on the Company’s SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com. Most of these factors are outside the control of the Company. Investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking information. Except as otherwise required by applicable securities statutes or regulation, the Company expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update publicly forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its regulation services provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.