Parma / IT. (bg) Italian food company Barilla has entered into an agreement to sell its interests in German bakery group Lieken to Czech Group Agrofert for an undisclosed amount. Once approved by the European Union, the deal will allow Barilla to continue focusing on growing its core business, while giving Lieken a new strategic owner.
Agrofert is a diversified chemicals, agriculture and food group with strong positions in Central and Eastern Europe. The company enjoys a significant presence in the bakery business in the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Hungary, where it is active in the production and distribution of fresh and packaged bread, rolls, pastries and flour. Via this transaction, Agrofert also enters the German bakery products market.
«Our strategy, announced in June 2012, when we decided to look for a new shareholder for Lieken, is to grow in pasta, sauces and ready meals worldwide, and to strengthen our branded bakery business in core countries», said Guido Barilla, Chairman of the Barilla Group. «I am pleased that a new strategic owner for Lieken has been found».
«Germany is one of the key markets of Agrofert´s operations and further growth of the bakery business is one of the core parts of the development strategy for our food division», said Andrej Babiš, Chairman of Agrofert Holding. «I am therefore glad that we will be able to welcome Lieken into our group and work together with its management and employees on Lieken´s further development and strengthening».
The transaction is subject to the preventive regulatory approval by the European Commission´s competition authority. The parties agreed not to disclose further details of the transaction.
Rabobank and Rothschild assisted Barilla in structuring and coordinating the entire sale process; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted as legal adviser. PricewaterhouseCoopers provided vendor due diligence assistance for financial and tax matters. Roland Berger reviewed the business plan of Lieken and provided commercial vendor due diligence assistance.
Agrofert was assisted by UniCredit acting as its financial adviser, CMS Hasche Sigle as its legal adviser and Deloitte which provided financial and tax due diligence services throughout the whole process.
Lieken is Germany’s leading baking specialist. Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, it was bought by Barilla Group in 2002, as part of the acquisition of Kamps. Lieken produces and sells bread and bakery products to supermarkets and retailers in Germany. The company offers toast and sandwich bread, savoury and sweet bread, rolls, buns, sweet pastries, baguettes and home-bake-off bread under the Golden Toast brand; and sliced bread, whole loaves, and cakes under the Lieken Urkorn brand. It sells private label bakery goods for supermarkets and other food retail outlets as well as Bake Off-products, which have become an increasingly significant part of its business. Lieken reported net sales of approximately 780 million EUR in 2012. Around 4’700 employees prove their commitment every day to the freshness and quality standards of the Lieken Group.
Barilla, originally established in 1877 as a bread and pasta shop in Parma, Italy, ranks as one of today´s top Italian food groups. Barilla leads in the global pasta business, the pasta sauces business in continental Europe, the bakery products business in Italy and the crispbread business in Scandinavia. Barilla owns 30 production sites – 14 in Italy and 16 outside Italy – and exports to more than 100 countries. Every year, about 1’700’000 tons of food products under the brands of Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Voiello, Pavesi, Academia Barilla, Wasa, Harrys (France and Russia), Misko (Greece), Filiz (Turkey), Yemina and Vesta (Mexico), are featured on dining tables all over the world.
Agrofert was established in 1993 as a company trading with fertilizers and agrochemicals. Over the years, it has grown into a group currently incorporating over 200 companies active in the chemical industry, agriculture, food production, forestry and media. With over 5,5 billion EUR consolidated sales, Agrofert ranks as third largest Czech enterprise. Agrofert has entered the bakery business in 2005 by acquisition of Penam, which has since then developed into the leading Czech and Slovak bakery producer. The group also incorporates Profrost, an important Central European producer of frozen bread and rolls, a green-field operation established in 2007. In 2010, Agrofert enlarged its bakery business further via an acquisition of Ceres, a leading Hungarian producer of toast and packaged bread. Agrofert´s current German operations include SKW Piesteritz, the largest German producer of nitrogen fertilizers and Agrofert Deutschland, an important trader with agricultural and chemical commodities. Agrofert is the largest Czech investor in Germany, sales of its German subsidiaries exceed one billion EUR, and it currently employs approximately 1’000 people in the country.