Eagle Ottawa plant changes hands again

20 August 2007

Zenda SA have purchased the former Eagle Ottawa wet-end plant in Bronkhorstspruit, South Africa, from Hannitan, just two months after Hannitan bought it. Zenda general manager Romualdo Varela said it was planned to start production, from wet-blue to crust, in June, to feed their finishing plant in Pretoria, which was installed in the second quarter of last year. He said it was too soon to know the scale of production. 'We're still doing studies on that', he said. 'Similarly, we can import wet-blues from Uruguay but we may also buy some locally. We don't want to close any avenues.' Zenda are also still importing some finished leather from their parent company but Varela said local processing 'gives the company more flexibility'. Hannitan member Rudolf Hanni said his interest in the plant had been to acquire a number of machines, 'and we want to expand our capacity'. After Hannitan took it over on April 1, 'Zenda made us an offer', he said, and the plant changed hands again in mid-May. 'We didn't buy it to sell it', Hanni said. 'That's just the way things turned out.' The plant, which has the capacity to process 2,500 hides/day from wet-blue to crust, would have been a substantial increase for Hannitan, which can currently process 1,000 hides/day. 'We didn't want to get that big, but it would have offered us various options', Hanni said. 'South Africa is short of raw material, so we need to import wet-blue. That plant would have enabled us to not only process for our own finishing department but to export crust as well.' Hannitan would now just expand its current capacity, he said, 'at our own pace - there's no pressure on us, but we want a facility like that should the need arise.'

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