Coca-Cola Amatil has finally found a buyer for the Australia-based firm’s fruit and vegetable business SPC Ardmona in the form of Shepparton Partners Collective.

SPC was officially put on the market last November following an extensive review, with a deal now struck with Shepparton Partners Collective for AUD40m (US$27.9m) after a potential sale of the company’s IXL jam and Taylor’s sauces unit to Kyabram Conserves fell through last year. The Perfect Fruit and Lumi brands will stay under Coca-Cola Amatil’s ownership. 

In a statement today (4 June), Shepparton Partners Collective was described as a joint venture between finance house Perma Funds Management and private-investment firm The Eights, which have international experience in food, supply chains, finance, retail, agricultural businesses and technology, according to the statement. 

Perma’s managing director Hussein Rifai said all permanent staff at Goulburn Valley-based SPC would be offered ongoing employment. 

“We believe there is enormous opportunity to grow this unique 100-year-old brand further, domestically and internationally,” Rifai added. “We need to focus on utilising SPC’s full capacity by creating new, innovative products and exploring new distribution channels. We are also excited to improve SPC’s current offering with exciting initiatives, products and solutions that will appeal to a broader market at home and abroad, whilst generating greater returns for stakeholders.”

Coca-Cola Amatil said it will reap a profit from the disposal of AUD10-15m based on “forecasted working capital balances, working capital adjustments to the sale price and costs of disposal” for SPC, which it acquired in 2005. The transaction is expected to be completed before the end of the month.

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The deal with Shepparton Partners includes a four-year deferred payment agreement which could result in an additional AUD15m derived from sales until the completion of the transaction.

Alison Watkins, the managing director of Coca-Cola Amatil, said the Sydney-listed firm had received “strong domestic and international interest” in SPC following a joint AUD100m investment with the Victorian government.

She continued: “Shepparton Partners Collective recognises the value of SPC’s brands, the opportunities for innovation and category growth in Australia, and its export potential. Importantly, they’re also committed to offering ongoing employment to all permanent members of the SPC team. This ensures continued access to the world-class capability and experience in fruit and vegetable processing which is brought to the company by SPC managing director Reg Weine and his team.”