Due to rising debts, the production companies of Hein Deprez, united in holding De Weide Blik, are in trouble. The problems make it difficult for the entrepreneur to retain control of the core of his empire: Greenyard.
Orchard Invest and The Fruit Farm
Orchard Invest and the Fruit Farm exploit plantations and production companies in Africa, Europe and Latin America. The Fruit Farm Group is only active in the Netherlands in Europe: in 2017, they acquired Frisian greenhouse vegetable company A.C. Hartman.
This wasn’t a success: the announced expansion was canceled, various lawsuits followed regarding the takeover and dozens of people were fired. Moreover, the considerable losses are putting pressure on the figures of The Fruit Farm. The Fruit Farm Group now wants to sell the nursery in Sexbierum again. Hein Deprez is in talks regarding the situation with a banking syndicate that finances the companies.
The annual account of De Weide Blik shows that Deprez’ companies are in a lot of trouble. Depreciation of subsidiaries The Fruit Farm Group (25.7 million euro) and Orchard Invest (27 million euro) resulted in a loss of 53 million euro last fiscal year. A loss carried over from 2017 is added to that, meaning De Weide Blik is currently in the red for 76 million euro.
New problems include subsidiary The Fruit Farm not being able to pay back 60 million in obligations. Newspaper FD reported on last week.
Consequences for Greenyard
The problems of De Weide Blik could also have consequences for Greenyard, which is listed. Deprez owns 49 per cent of the shares of Greenyard. De Weide Blik was the foundation for Hein Deprez’ control: parts can be sold when problems arise.
Last week, a group of investors met in Ghent, Belgium, to talk about the fate of the fruit growers in Africa, South America and Friesland. The Fruit Farm Group’s financial problems were high on the agenda. The bondholders are worried they won’t get their money back. The Fruit Farm Group is asking financiers for a respite and adjustments to certain conditions.
Greenyard shares at lowest level ever
The report on the problems for De Weide Blik last week caused Greenyard’s shares to drop. At the closing of the market, the shares had dropped 16.6% and were reported at 2.68 euro, the lowest level ever (link to Belgian newspaper De Tijd). The value of Deprez’ importance dropped by nearly 12 million euro in one day.
Investors fear the problems will have consequences for Greenyard and that it’s inevitable that Deprez will lose control of the group.