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November 25, 2020

Czech consortium confirms interest in Fortenova frozen-food assets

The potential sale of Fortenova Group's frozen-food business has moved to the second round of bids, a suitor for the Croatia-based company's assets has confirmed to just-food.

By Dean Best

Two investment funds, Prague-based Emma Capital and the Czech-Slovak firm J&T Finance Group, have teamed up to lodge interest in Fortenova Group’s frozen-food business.

“I can confirm our interest and even the fact that we, a consortium of Emma Capital and J&T Finance Group, were chosen among participants of the tender that advanced into the second round,” a spokesperson for Emma Capital told just-food. “Unfortunately, we are not authorised to communicate any more details at the moment.”

A news report in Croatia suggested Nordic food group Orkla and UK-based frozen-food giant Nomad Foods are also interested in the assets and would be looking at the books.

When contacted by just-food, an Orkla spokesperson said he could not comment. At the time of writing, officials for Nomad, the owner of the Iglo brand, had not returned a request for comment, nor had Fortenova.

Zagreb-based Fortenova – successor to the collapsed Agrokor agribusiness and retail trade conglomerate – received a number of non-binding offers to buy Ledo, Ledo Citluk and Frikom in September. Fortenova said earlier this month it had invited a “select number of bidders” to conduct due diligence.

Ledo is the largest manufacturer and distributor of ice cream and frozen food in Croatia, while Ledo Citluk is a business based in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Frikom is a Serbian maker of ice cream and other frozen foods.

In the statement issued earlier this month, James Pearson, Fortenova’s CFO, said: “The market test has confirmed that there is strong international interest among potential investors in our frozen food business. The qualified non-binding offers come from companies with outstanding investment and operational track record. We are glad that we will be entering due diligence process with some extremely strong potential partners.

“Our ultimate goal, over and above maximising value, remains to be selection of a strategic partner who will make the maximum contribution to the further development of the frozen food business group.”

Fortenova emerged from the restructuring of the now defunct Agrokor, once the largest consumer goods business in the Balkans, which was put into state-administration in 2017 amid huge debts and accusations of fraud. It emerged under its new identity last year backed by its predecessor’s creditors.

The company has stated it wants to reduce debt and concentrate on growth in other areas.

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