(Reuters) – Private equity firm CVC has finalized a deal to buy 29.99 percent of Spain’s Deoleo – the world’s biggest bottled olive oil company – followed by a full takeover bid at 0.38 euro per share, Deoleo said in a statement on Friday.
Spanish banks Bankia and Banco Mare Nostrum have agreed to sell their 16.5 percent and 4.85 percent stakes while Dcoop olive cooperative – which tried to block the CVC deal and increase its influence in Deoleo – will sell an 8.64 percent stake.
Before launching the full buyout offer, CVC will back a refinancing deal for Deoleo, the statement said. The olive oil company piled up debt making acquisitions and has slimmed down and recapitalised since 2010 but still has 500 million euros in debt, or about six times core earnings.
A source close to the deal said CVC was confident of ending up with more than 50 percent of Deoleo through the bid for all outstanding shares and a subsequent capital hike to which it will subscribe to at least 100 million euros worth of shares.
The takeover of Deoleo has taken on political dimensions in Spain, by far the world’s leading olive oil producer, after the government showed concern over foreign control of what it sees as a nationally strategic company, particularly the possibility of a takeover by a fund from major olive producing rival Italy.
CVC, and private equity firms from the United States and France, as well as IQMIIC, a joint venture between Italian state investment fund FSI and its Qatari counterpart, all put in bids for a Deoleo stake put on the block by several of its shareholder banks.
Spain exports about a third of its olive oil production in bulk to Italy, which has done better at selling its brand and quality, consistently fetching higher prices for extra-virgin olive oil than Spain.
Deoleo sells one fifth of the world’s bottled olive oil and owns three of the top four brands, Spain’s Carbonell and Italy’s Bertolli and Carapelli.
The olive industry is a major employer in poor areas of southern Spain, but while olives are a traditional element of Spain’s export image, they are only a small portion of the value of the country’s total exports.
Government ministers have repeatedly said the state has not ruled out taking a stake in Deoleo to keep a measure of influence in the country.
But there has been no sign so far of a concrete offer from the government.
Shareholders representing 54.43 percent of Deoleo – Bankia, Banco Mare Nostrum, CaixaBank, CajaSur Banco, Dcoop Unicaja and Daniel Klein – have all agreed to CVC’s acquisition of the 29.99 percent stake, the refinancing plan, the share offer and the capital hike, the statement said.
Bankia and Banco Mare Nostrum are both forced to sell their Deoleo shares under the terms of government bailouts when they ran into trouble in the financial and economic crisis.
The deal values Deoleo at around 439 million euros, compared to a current market capitalization of 456 million euros. But shareholders agreed to the lower price partly because of the refinancing component of the deal and because the shares are illiquid and trade at a premium to sector peers, sources close to the deal have said.
Deoleo shares fell 1.25 percent on Friday to close at 0.395 euro per share