France-based major Savencia Fromage & Dairy has confirmed its interest in buying Tholem, a cheese brand marketed in Argentina.

Savencia told just-food the company, through its Argentinian subsidiary Milkaut, is looking at acquiring Tholem, which is owned by local co-op Sancor.

However, a deal has yet to be completed, Savencia insisted.

“The Tholem brand is interesting for Milkaut, but today the acquisition is only a project, not done,” a Savencia spokesperson said. The spokesperson refused to be drawn on what stage of the process the companies have reached.

A source in Argentina familiar with the situation has told just-food Sancor has accepted a US$6m bid from Milkaut for Tholem.

According to the source, SanCor has agreed to sell the brand but is to keep the plant located in Gálvez, Santa Fe province, where the co-op still has the option to continue manufacturing spreadable cheeses under its own brands.

Savencia produces and markets cheese in Argentina under the brands Milkaut, Santa Rosa, Adler and Bavaria.

SanCor, one of the largest dairy companies in the country, has been going through an intense restructuring process during the last two years, including selling assets.

In 2018, SanCor sold two manufacturing units and the milk brands Las Tres Niñas y Angelita to Adecoagro, Argentina’s largest producer of raw milk. 

However, SanCor is still a major player in Argentina’s cream cheese business through its brand Mendicrim and PorSalut. Consulted on how the planned deal with Savencia fits the cooperative’s strategy, the source said: “It is the sale of an asset that can be replaced by other brands and the result can be applied to the ongoing sustainable process of restructuring the company”.