Delta Partners Ups Stake in Wessanen

Delta Partners, a U.S.-based buyout shop, has increased its stake in Dutch food group Wessanen to 20.07%, Reuters reported Saturday. Delta Partners first reported a 5.15% ownership in Wessanen in October 2009.

(Reuters) – U.S.-based private equity firm Delta Partners has raised its stake in Wessanen (BSWSc.AS) to 20.07 percent as the Dutch food group’s turnaround continues, filings with the stock markets regulator AFM showed on Saturday.

Delta Partners, which describes itself on its website as a private equity firm and consultancy focusing on the rapid restructuring of financially distressed companies, first reported a 5.15 percent stake in Wessanen in October 2009.

At that time, Wessanen was struggling with debt, prompting it to divest units and later issue shares in March last year as it moved to refocus its activities on the European health food sector and away from the North American market.

In three filings with the AFM since then, Delta Partners has progressively raised its stake, culminating in an Aug. 16 filing published on Saturday showing it held a 20.07 percent stake.

Under Dutch law, investors must report their stakes if they pass thresholds of 5, 10, 15, 25 and 30 percent. Once a stake goes above 30 percent, investors are obligated to make a full takeover offer for a company.

Neither Wessanen nor Delta Partners were immediately available for comment.

Wessanen has continued to make divestments in recent months, most recently selling its Tree of Live distribution business in Britain last month as part of its repositioning and is pushing ahead with the sale of its U.S. drinks unit ABC.

Of the 10 analysts covering the stock, seven still rate it “hold,” unchanged from 90 days ago, according to Starmine which rates analysts based on past performance and timeliness.

Still, KBC Securities analyst Pascale Weber said in July Wessanen is operationally on the right track as it focuses on organic food in Europe and “may also become an attractive prey once the disposal programme is completed.” (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; editing by James Jukwey)