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Food and Beverage

Savola Group

Industry: 
Industrial Services, Food and Beverage
Symbol: 
Saudi Arabia: SAVOLA
Country: 
Saudi Arabia
Contact Information: 
Sources: 

Savola’s subsidiary, Afia International Co., operates in Iran. Afia's subsidary, Savola Behshahr Company, also operates in Iran.

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"A Saudi-based food company that has done well for itself in sanctions-era Iran experienced the downside of investments there this week, when Iran’s double-digit inflation ate into Savola Group’s earnings. Savola, which makes cooking oil and other staple foods in markets around the Middle East and North Africa, reported a $150 million net profit for the quarter ended December 31, missing most analyst expectations of around $170 million. The company generates about 15% of total revenue from its business in Iran, pointed out NCB Capital’s Farouk Miah, making that country one of its most important overseas market…Savola, one of the Middle East’s largest food groups, has quietly prospered in Iran, despite the tensions. Regional economists cite a long history of business between key trading families of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Starting in 2004, Savola bought what today stands as an 80% stake in a holding company, Savola Behshahr, which manages two food plants in Iran. Savola Behshahr is said to hold more than a 50% share of the Iranian edible-oil market. Savola’s Saudi executives are largely hands-off, letting local managers in Iran deal with operations, analysts say. Iran’s government helps Savola Behshahr and other producers of key food items with subsidies, to control rises in costs of staples for Iranian families, Mr. Miah noted. The Saudi government itself is the second-largest single shareholder in Savola, through a 10% stake held by a social-insurance board, according to data on the Saudi stock exchange website. Savola’s gross profit in the fourth-quarter fell 20% on year – in part due to Iran’s sharp devaluation of its currency in 2013, some analysts say. Iran in July cut the rial’s value to deal with inflation brought on partly by international sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear program. The Saudi company’s fourth-quarter report this week was acknowledgment ‘it has taken some of the hit’ of the currency devalution in Iran, Mr. Miah said. Additionally, re-classification of Iran’s economy as 'hyper-inflationary' – Iran’s central bank this month put the country’s official annual inflation rate at 40% – also required a procedural book-keeping change, and the financial impact of that piled up in the fourth quarter, EFG Hermes said in a note to clients. Lower prices overall for commodities and a one-off $27 million impairment charge related to another investment also contributed to Savola missing fourth-quarter earnings expectations, analysts said. The Saudi food company draws what NCB Capital estimates is 40% of its revenue in non-dollar-linked currencies. Expanding out of Saudi Arabia helps its food companies expand revenue despite price controls in the kingdom, but also increases their exposure to regional political troubles, as in Egypt, Iran and Sudan…Analysts say Iran remains a strong market for Savola, despite the complexities of operating in an economy under international sanctions. Food is exempted from the sanctions.” (Wall Street Journal, “Saudi Food Company Battles Iran Currency Weakness,” 1/21/14)

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“Iran is having to pay a premium for basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil, highlighting the increasing strain on Tehran from Western sanctions aimed at its disputed nuclear programme, even though the sanctions don't cover food. Wilmar International, the world's largest listed planter, and Mewah International, a $570 million edible oils processor - both listed in Singapore - are driving sales to Iran on long-term contracts, with Middle Eastern trading sources reporting premiums of up to $30 a tonne to the cash benchmark…Wilmar and Mewah dominate the trade with Iran where demand for high-value refined palm olein, used in cooking oil, can reach 500,000-700,000 tonnes a year. Wilmar sells to Saudi Arabian food company Savola, which buys palm oil to feed its edible oil processors in Iran, three Middle Eastern trading sources told Reuters. They said Wilmar demands a premium of $20-$30 per tonne to cover potential payment delays and interest charges. Wilmar said it does not comment on specific contracts. Savola did not respond to requests for comment.’ Savola is a one woman man. It sticks to one palm oil company to supply its refineries and it's Wilmar for the past few years,’ said a Dubai trading source close to Savola. "Payments can be slow, but there are ways around it. The money will be banked in (Saudi) riyals, euros and U.S. dollars from Turkish banks. Sometimes, the money will come via India…’Wilmar doesn't do high stakes gambling. So it has taken a corporate guarantee from Savola's head office in Saudi Arabia,’ said a Southeast Asian trading source who has done deals with Savola. ‘It's become standard practice.’ Savola has 832,000 tonnes of annual capacity in Iran, giving it nearly 40 percent market share in a country of over 74 million people. The firm's revenues from Iran increased by almost a third last year to 4.4 billion riyals ($1.17 billion), about 42 percent of its global edible oil sales.” (Reuters, “Beyond sanctions, Iran squeezed by higher edible oil costs,” 4/29/13)

Niksima Food and Beverages

Industry: 
Food and Beverage
Country: 
UAE
Sources: 

"A Canadian frozen yogurt franchise might seem like an entirely unusual conduit for Iran to evade hardening U.S. government sanctions. But among several companies the U.S. sanctioned in May for illicit dealings with Iran was a cold outlier: Niksima Food and Beverages, a firm based in Dubai that runs local outlets of Yogen Fruz, the Canadian frozen yogurt purveyor... While the ties between Iran’s energy industry and frozen yogurt may appear tenuous at first glance, Niksima, the U.S. state department said, had accepted payments on behalf of Jam Petrochemicals Complex, a major petrochemical facility on Iran’s southern coast that it is targeting as part of a new strategy aimed at curbing Iran’s income from things like plastics and lubricants. As U.S. sanctions over Iran’s disputed nuclear program deepen, the Niksima case points to growing evidence that the Islamic republic is using increasingly complex financial transactions and far-flung business partners to evade restrictions and keep its key industries humming... Niksima’s penalty was a ban on transactions involving U.S. jurisdiction, effectively freezing the company out of the U.S. financial system... The precise reasons why Niksima may have been involved in petrochemicals transactions remain unclear, but it’s possible that Iran has been using the company as a link in a complex barter that allows it to do deals and take shipments without exchanging any money, thus evading U.S. sanctions on financial transactions. Such a complex barter, the structure of which a person familiar with the matter said was not uncommon, might start not with Niksima but with one of the food firm’s sister companies called Paymood Petro Shipping. According to the now deleted website of Dubai-based Arcology Investments, which listed Paymood and Niksima as its subsidiaries, Paymood has two LNG tankers that serve the Jam Petrochemicals complex. Jam has become a major target of U.S. sanctions, and was also named with Niksima in the sanctions handed down in May. The idea is that Iran may be instructing customers who buy products from Jam to pay companies like Niksima instead – companies that aren’t subject to sanctions or U.S. scrutiny but who provide other valuable services to Jam through a parent company such as Arcology and its other subsidiaries like Paymood. Niksima, in other words, may get money from Jam’s customers in exchange for the services Paymood provides to Jam. This is how a frozen yogurt company could in theory get tied up with Iran’s energy industry. It is unclear if this transactional structure was indeed used in the Niksima case, and Niksima representatives refused to comment on the situation. Yogen Fruz also declined to comment, and the U.S. state department wouldn’t elaborate on it." (The Wall Street Journal, "Dubai Frozen Yoghurt Firm Feels Iran Sanction Chill," 7/15/2013) 

MF-Hamburg Gmbh

Country: 
Germany
Contact Information: 
Sources: 

Iranian food services company Kadivar Group advertises itself as the sole representative of numerous European companies, including MF-Hamburg, on its homepage.

KRBL Rice

Industry: 
Food and Beverage
Symbol: 
NSE : KRB
Country: 
India
Contact Information: 
Sources: 

"It threatens to jeopardize the trade with them, hurting both India and Iran," Anil K. Mittal, chairman of KRBL Ltd, a leading Indian rice miller and exporter, told Reuters." (Reuters,"Exclusive: Iran defaults on rice payments to India," 2/7/2012)

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"Anoop Kumar Gupta, joint managing director at KRBL Ltd. (KRB), an Indian rice exporter, comments on outlook for shipment of basmati rice and sales to Iran." (Bloomberg, "India Rice Exports to Iran to Drop on Payment Delay, KRBL Says," 8/19/2011)

Antonov Co.

Industry: 
Aerospace, Manufacturing
Country: 
Ukraine
Contact Information: 
Sources: 

"The Persian Gulf country will buy two Ukrainian-made Antonov-158s, after a test flight of the aircraft earlier this month, Mohammad-Ali Sirati, managing director of the Iranian aircraft company, was cited as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The countries then will start to jointly build the aircraft next year, Sirati, whose company will be in charge of the project, said in Tehran yesterday. Some 30 percent of each plane will be made in Iran, state-run media reported." (Business Week, "Iran Says Antonov-158 Built With Ukraine May Fly in 2013," 10/6/2011)

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Antonov lists on its website that their AN-24 turboprop aircraft is serially produced at HESA plant in Isfahan, Iran. (Antonov website)

Del Monte

Industry: 
Food and Beverage
Symbol: 
NYSE:DLM
Country: 
USA
Sources: 

Over the last three presidential administrations, the United States government has granted Del Monte 11 special licenses to do business in Iran. (New York Times, "Companies with Permission to Bypass Sanctions," 12/24/10)

Wrigley Company

Industry: 
Food and Beverage
States: 
IL
Country: 
USA
Sources: 

"The chewing gum manufacturer, owned by Mars Inc., was licensed to export its products to Iran and Sudan. OFAC redacted the names of the entities buying the products. A company spokeswoman, Kelly McGrail said: 'Mars Incorporated and its subsidiaries, including Wrigley, operate in full compliance of all state, federal and international regulations. We provide our products to consumers all over the world. At this time, Mars and Wrigley sell products to consumers in Sudan, Iran and Libya in full compliance with all U.S. regulations, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control licensing regime. We will, of course, continue to monitor the actions of the U.S. government on this matter and comply with any changes in regulation.'" (New York Times, "Licenses Granted to U.S. Companies Run the Gamut," 12/24/10)

WILD Flavors Inc.

Industry: 
Food and Beverage
Country: 
USA
Sources: 

"This license authorized Wild Flavors, which describes itself on its Web site as one of the largest privately-held ingredient suppliers to the food and beverage industry, to export cream powder and cheese powder to Iran under a humanitarian exception for agricultural and medical products." (New York Times, "Licenses Granted to U.S. Companies Run the Gamut," 12/24/10)

NutraSweet Company

Industry: 
Food and Beverage
Country: 
USA
Sources: 

"This license authorizes NutraSweet to export its artificial sweetener to Iran. The company contended that NutraSweet's products qualify as agricultural commodities for which a license should be granted under the agriculture and medical humanitarian sections because its sweeteners are 'food additives for humans,' one of the definitions listed in the regulations. The company, which received licenses in other years as well, was authorized to sell to the following entities in Iran: Zam Zam Iran Company, Pars Minoo Ind. Co., Choco Parstoo Co., Iran Zak, the Sasan Company and the Nooshab Company, all in Tehran; the Farabi Pharmaceutical Company in Isfahan; and the Dadash Barador Company and the Shirin Asal Food Ind. Co. in Tabriz." (New York Times, "Licenses Granted to U.S. Companies Run the Gamut," 12/24/10)

McCormick & Company

Industry: 
Food and Beverage
Symbol: 
NYSE:MKC
Country: 
USA
Sources: 

"Spice giant McCormick has agreed to stop selling its spices to Iran, following the efforts of a Baltimore Jewish activist. Jay Bernstein, an attorney and community activist, read in The New York Times article last December that despite sanctions against Iran, the U.S. Treasury was still allocating licenses to American companies to conduct business with the Islamic Republic. One of those companies, he learned, was the Baltimore-based McCormick & Co., founded in 1889 by a Jewish immigrant. 'It seemed that what we could do is draw attention to McCormick and get them to reconsider,' Bernstein said... Jim Lynn, McCormick’s director of corporate communications, told the Baltimore Jewish Times that McCormick distributes its spices to some 100 countries. But he said the company could not get assurances by certain parties that the products would not be sold by companies connected in some ways to companies that had been blacklisted, so McCormick decided not to sell in Iran." (JTA, "McCormick stopping spice sales to Iran," 4/13/11)

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"McCormick & Company was licensed to sell a range of products, including spices, seasonings, salt substitutes, dips, marinades, food colorings, edible cake decorations, icings, imitation vanilla extract and salad toppings, to a number of stores in Iran under the broadly written exemption for agricultural products. Though OFAC and the State Department are required by law to vet the companies that are buying even benign products to make sure they are not involved in international terrorism, The New York Times found that a number of the Iranian companies listed on the application as the end purchasers of McCormick's goods were in fact connected to entities that the United States has blacklisted for their involvement in Iran's nuclear and ballistic weapons programs and connection to terrorist activities. Take Refah, the largest supermarket chain in Iran. Its shareholders, according to Refah's website, include the Iranian Bank of Saderat, and Bank of Sepah, the Bank of Melli and Bank Tejarat. The Bank of Saderat was blacklisted by OFAC for serving as a conduit between the Iranian government and various terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and Hamas. The Bank of Sepah was blacklisted for serving as 'the financial linchpin' of Iran's efforts to procure a 'missile capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction.' The Bank of Melli and Bank Tejarat were blacklisted for similar activities. Shahrvand, another of the chain stores listed in the McCormick license application, is owned by the government of Tehran. Both Refah and Shahrvand were once run by Ali-Akbar Mehrabian, according to the Iranian press. Mr. Mehrabian is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's minister for industries and mines, and a close adviser believed to be instrumental in smoothing the way for the sale of government-owned assets to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an arm of the Iranian military that the United States has also blacklisted for its involvement in the Iranian nuclear program. And a third chain store, Ghods, is closely linked with the Guards; many top officials in the organizations are former Guards officers. A McCormick spokesman, Jim Lynn, said that the company has held this license for several years, but that 'we were not aware of the information you shared with us, and we are looking into it.' OFAC's director, Adam J. Szubin, acknowledged that it did not appear as though background checks had been done in this case. But, he said, given his limited resources, they were better spent on stopping weapons technology from reaching Iran. 'Are we checking end users? Yes. But are we doing corporate due diligence on every Iranian importer? No,' Mr. Szubin said. 'I don't think that would be the best use of our Farsi speakers and our Iranian intelligence analysts.' He added that even if the links had come to light, he still might not have had the authority to deny the license. That's because Congress drafted the law mandating that licenses be issued for agricultural products in such a way that they can be denied only if it can be shown that the purchasers are more than 50 percent owned by entities engaged in terrorism." (New York Times, "Licenses Granted to U.S. Companies Run the Gamut," 12/24/10)