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September 10, 2014

BELGIUM: Jacob to become Ardo CEO as Dujardin merger gets OK

Ardo has named Rik Jacob its new CEO as the Belgian frozen food group said it had received regulatory clearance to merge with peer Dujardin Foods.

By Dean Best

Ardo has named Rik Jacob its new CEO as the Belgian frozen food group said it had received regulatory clearance to merge with peer Dujardin Foods.

Jacob, who had been chief executive at Dujardin, will take the top job at the enlarged business, which is to be called Ardo.

The two companies, which announced in March they had struck a deal to combine, said today (10 September) they had received the green light from competition authorities in each of the markets in which they operate.

The deal is set to be finalised on 31 December once outstanding “legal and financial steps” are completed, Ardo said.

Ardo and Dujardin were set up by two brothers 40 years ago. Once the merger is sealed, the Haspelagh brothers will own 100% of the new Ardo. The deal has seen private-equity firm NPM Capital sell its minority stake in Dujardin.

Jacob will be responsible for areas including human resources, IT, finance, Ardo said.

Jan Haspelagh, previously the CEO at Ardo, will be MD, focusing on areas including sales, marketing, NPD, and optimising of the new group’s supply chain.

Bernard Haspeslagh will be COO, responsible for functions including agriculture, investments, production technologies and sustainability.

Ardo operates 15 production, packing and distribution sites in eight European countries. In 2013, Ardo’s net consolidated turnover was EUR607m.

Dujardin is a manufacturer of fresh frozen vegetables, aromatic herbs, ingredients and ready-to-eat meals. The company, has five production sites located in Belgium, France and the UK, has a turnover of EUR213m.

Asked if the new management would look to close any of the enlarged business’ plants, a spokesperson referred just-food to the statement in March that announced the merge.

No specific mention of plant closures was made. The statement read: “The rationale behind the planned merger is to create a robust working platform that enables the business to operate sustainably in the frozen vegetable, fruit and herb sector for years to come, and to lay the basis for a third-generation, professionally-managed family business.

“The merger of the two like-minded companies will optimise all available synergies, including  complementary areas of business, to maintain market positions and competiveness.”

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