Kropz SA is a plant nutrient company and miner of fertilizer feed materials based in South Africa. Harebottle has more than 17 years of experience in the mining sector. Most recently, he served as CEO of AIM-quoted Gemfields plc from February 2009 until its acquisition by Pallinghurst Resources Ltd in July 2017. Under his leadership, the company grew into a leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones with assets in Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Madagascar. Since his appointment in 2009, Harebottle undertook an operational restructuring, which saw Gemfields plc transition from a loss-making business with revenues under US$1 million to an international multi-asset business that generated EBITDA of US$69 million from revenues of US$193 million in 2016.
Before joining Gemfields, Harebottle served as CEO of AIM-quoted Tanzanite One Ltd from April 2005 to February 2008. Tanzanite One was the largest tanzanite producer in the world, achieving a market capitalisation of US$400 million under Harebottle’s leadership and was widely recognised as being one of the highest dividend payers in the mining sector on AIM during that time.
Harebottle is recognised for his skills in facilitating and participating in high level operational initiatives, including infrastructure design, process re-engineering, turnaround management and reorganisation. He has a strong transactional background in startups, mergers, acquisitions and stock exchange listings.
According to the statement, steps are well underway for the formation of Kropz plc – the intended holding company for all of the various assets in the Kropz group. A variety of funding options, including a flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, are also reportedly being explored.
Mike Nunn, Kropz founder and non-executive director, said: “I have been lucky enough to have worked with Ian for many of his 17 years in mining and have experienced first-hand his positive, professional and thorough approach to business leadership. Ian has a built an enviable reputation as being a positive ‘disruptor’ and one to challenge traditional practices. We believe Kropz is ideally suited to his skillset to bring about a new player in the African plant nutrient sector.”
Ian Harebottle added: “I am extremely excited by the fact that I will soon be joining Kropz and embarking on a new chapter in the plant nutrient business, ably supported by a management team with technical and marketing experience in the phosphate sector. In my lifetime, we have seen exponential population growth coupled with a commensurate decrease in available arable land, which makes the role of increasing crop yields incredibly relevant both today and in the future.”