|Traded as||Euronext: CFAO|
|Industry||Industrial products distribution|
|Key people||Alain Viry
(Chairman and CEO)
|Revenue||€3.58 billion (2012)|
|Operating income||€280.8 million (2012)|
|Profit||€171.2 million (2012)|
|Total assets||€1.19 billion (2012)|
|Total equity||€818.9 million (2012)|
|Parent||Toyota Tsusho Corporation|
CFAO is a multinational company engaged in the sale of manufactured goods, especially automobiles and pharmaceutical products. It has operations in Africa and France's former colonies and overseas territories.
The Compagnie Française de l'Afrique Occidentale (CFAO) was founded in 1887 by Frédéric Bohn. It was created from the shipping company owned by his father in law, Charles-Auguste Verminck, the Établissements Verminck, centred on Marseille. Initially continued business operations that were being carried on, trading with groundnut, leather, soap, rubber and other products, but soon adopted the pattern of rivals French colonial trading houses, with a management structure composed of non-African employees (mostly French) and a retail location network (in the major transatlantic ports) with exchange sites (called factoreries) located on rivers-banks and the hinterland. CFAO expanded into Senegal, then into Sierra Leone to exploit its rich production of palm kernels and obtain oil. Its main rival at the time was another French company, the Société Commerciale de l'Ouest Africain (SCOA), founded in 1905 by dissident managers of CFAO.
However, the main goal soon became to compete for the market share of the powerful British colonial companies, taking advantage of the 1898 free trade agreement, which included the Niger River and its basin. CFAO entered slowly in the Gulf of Guinea, gaining ground in Nigeria and Ghana and clashing with the English and Dutch operations. In 1909, the company settled a branch in the Gold Coast (Ghana), where an important cocoa production was developing. The company followed an open strategy, receiving supplies from companies of different countries and establishing purchase locations for products to sell in Africa throughout Europe, for example in England, where it focused its operations in Manchester. In 1911, CFAO sealed an agreement with the Ford Motor Company’s French subsidiary and began selling Ford automobiles in sub-Saharan Africa, although car sales was not one of its core activities until mid-century. At the same time, it also signed an agreement (1911) with the American firm Texaco for petroleum products. During the 20s and 30s, the company opened subsidiaries in Cameroon, Gabon, Togo and the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo. In the 50s, it won the exclusive distribution of several American manufactured goods, such as International Harvester's agricultural machinery, Remington's office equipment and Otis' elevators.
In 1990, the company was purchased by Pinault (later PPR). Soon after, it started to sell pharmaceutic products. In 1996, it purchased its historic rival, SCOA, integrating its pharmaceuticals distribution division, Eurapharma.
In 2009, PPR sold through an IPO shares equivalent to CFAO's 50.39 percent stake, collecting 806 million euros. BNP Paribas, Calyon, Goldman Sachs International and Société Générale acted as Global Coordinators, Joint Lead Managers and Joint Bookrunners. PPR kept a big amount of the remaining shares through its fully owned subsidiary Discodis SAS.
In 2012, PPR sold a 29.8 percent from CFAO to Toyota Tsusho Corporation with the aim of cutting debt and funding an expansion in luxury goods and sportwear. Later, the Japanese company launched a tender offer, purchasing PPR's remaining stake and almost all public shares, taking control of a 97.91 percent by December
CFAO Industries, Equipment, and Services
It is responsible for bottling beverages; developing and manufacturing plastics; design, construction and maintenance of IT networks; distribution of construction machineryr and generators; installation and maintenance of elevators.
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