Belgium: BelOrta and Hoogstraten merger off the table

The merger between the Belgian companies, BelOrta Auctioneers and the Hoogstraten Cooperative, will not become a reality. Both parties informed us of this and admitted that negotiations were not completely successful in this regard, but that they will continue working together. BelOrta, as well as Hoogstraten, have emphasised that they did not leave the negotiating table with hard feelings. The final decision was made on Friday.

On 30 March, the managements of Coöperatie Hoogstraten cvba and BelOrta cvba granted permission to found a ‘merger committee.’ Due to several merges in the past, BelOrta has become the largest fruit and vegetable auction of Belgium. BelOrta’s sales amounted to €412 million in 2016. Coöperatie Hoogstraten is well-known for its strawberries. Additionally, Coöperatie Hoogstraten mostly trades tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers. Last year, the cooperative realised sales of 222 million euro, again a slight increase compared to 2015. BelOrta and Coöperatie Hoogstraten wanted to better achieve their goal of sustainable sales of fruit and vegetables for a fair price.

Gaston Opdekamp, Hoogstraten Cooperative: "There were too many differences in our corporate cultures"
Director of Hoogstraten Cooperative, Gaston Opdekamp, confirms that the merger will definitely not go ahead. According to him, it was a mutually civil decision. "There were too many differences between the companies' cultures. When you each have your own history, then it can happen that you do not see things the same way. Although the merger will not happen, we came to this decision as a group" says Gaston Opdekamp. "We did not part ways with hard feelings. Our aim is also to continue working together. This was a fair attempt from both companies, which, unfortunately, did not work out. It is hard to say whether a merger is a possibility in the future. Time will tell."

Filip Fontaine, BelOrta: "The idea of a merger slowly faded"
Just like Gaston Opdekamp, BelOrta's Director, Filip Fontaine, confirms that the merger is not going ahead. "It is, of course, disappointing for everyone", he admits. "There is no reason for it. The process was good, but it did not succeed. Negotiations began in March, but as time went on, the right moment passed us by. The idea of a merger slowly faded. There was no real reason for this and there were no disagreements. In Belgium, we have a saying: 'The mayonnaise did not stick', the collaboration was not successful. Although there will be no merger, we will continue working together. We got to know each other better during this process and, in my opinion, gained a better understanding of each other. We now work even better together and no one was hurt by the decision. The effects of the failed merger could have been much different, but it was done in a professional manner by both parties. Our relationship is still good."

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