Fortenova seeks potential buyers for its agri division

Fortenova, the Croatia-based food, drinks and retail group, has launched a process to assess the interest of potential buyers for its agricultural business division. The company announced on Monday (30 January) that it had sent a teaser to several possible interested parties and expects to receive non-binding offers by the end of the first quarter.

Fortenova’s agricultural assets

The agricultural business division of Fortenova includes several operations, such as:

  • Belje, a meat processor that produces pork, beef, poultry and processed meat products
  • PIK Vinkovci, a vegetables supplier that grows and sells potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage and other crops
  • Vupik, a diversified company that engages in pig breeding, winemaking, crop production and tourism

Fortenova said that it had made significant investments in the agricultural sector in recent years, increasing the overall value of this business division. One of the major investments made last year was the renewal of agricultural machinery valued at over 60 million euros.


Fortenova’s strategic goals

Fortenova said that the potential sale of its agricultural business division was part of its strategic goals to reduce its indebtedness and focus on its core business areas, such as retail and food. The company added that the continuation of the process would depend on the quality of non-binding offers from potential strategic partners who would not only offer a fair price, but also contribute to the further development and preservation of employment and the tradition of agricultural production in Croatia.

Fortenova’s retail arm comprises supermarket chains Konzum and Mercator, while its food unit includes condiments and edible oils business Zvijezda, cheese maker Agrolaguna and soft-drinks company Jamnica. The company sold its frozen food assets to Nomad Foods, the owner of Birds Eye and Iglo, in 2021.

Fortenova’s ownership structure

Fortenova’s announcement comes after a majority of its shareholders voted in favour of an ownership restructure of the business under a newly-formed Dutch holding company in December. The transfer-of-equity proposal, for as much as 660 million euros, is expected to close in the second quarter of this year and includes a provision to compensate sanctioned equity holders for their loss of interest.

Fortenova’s ownership structure has been complicated by the involvement of sanctioned Russian banks Sberbank and VTBE, which own 49.9% of the company through their subsidiaries SBK Art and Open Pass. SBK Art has been trying to block the sale of Fortenova through legal action in the Netherlands, while Open Pass has committed to fund all the consideration payable, if necessary.

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