Growing foreign investment in Spanish food sectors

Investments by foreign funds and companies in the Spanish agrifood sectors – including the distribution chains - are steadily growing, amounting more than €3.75 billion in the last five years.

The main reason is that, in the current context, these sectors are a very favorable bet. “The change of cycle makes it interesting to invest in Spain and, in particular, in sectors so close to the evolution of the economy. In addition, these are very atomized but at the same time very dynamic companies”, declares J.A. Zarzalejos, from PwC. E. Domínguez, of Deloitte, points out one more key, “Spanish food and distribution firms are leaders in productivity and innovation”.

Both experts explain that the main movements took place between 2014 and 2016, because prices were then more interesting. Anyway, in 2017, investments for more than €370 million have been already closed with a clear protagonist, Dia, where the main operation has been the entry of the Russian tycoon Mikhail Friedman as its shareholder.

Other interesting transactions which took place in the distribution sector occurred in 2015. We refer to the 1 billion euros paid by Sheikh Al Thani for 12.5% of El Corte Inglés – food accounts for 15% of its business - and the purchase of Miquel Alimentación – created 90 years ago and with more than 600 stores - by the Chinese Bright Food for €250 million.

Wine is another sector which is very interesting for foreign investment. An example is the purchase, by the Philippine group Emperador, of Garvey, a world leader in brandy production.

Olive oil has also attracted foreign investors. The most important transaction was the purchase of 50.01% of Deoleo, the world leader in this sector, by the British fund CVC, which took place in 2015.

There are many other cases, ranging from the meat processing sector (Campofrío) to fish canning industry (Calvo), juices (Calidad Pascual) or dairy products (Kaiku).

Are we witnessing the end of this trend or are there still some opportunities? “A more expensive market discourages investments at the rates we have seen till now”. The returns are no longer spectacular, but interesting, and there's still a lot of liquidity, so there will be more operations”, says Zarzalejos. Domínguez goes further ensuring that “investors’ appetite is still very high. Currently there are several transactions to be closed in the coming months”.

Source: Expansión / Agroberichten Buitenland

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