Deoleo is a global leader in olive oil: its brands include Koipe, Carbonell and Bertolli

Deoleo is a global leader in olive oil: its brands include Koipe, Carbonell and Bertolli

Spanish olive oil cooperative Hojiblanca has confirmed it is in talks to buy a 30% stake in local rival Deoleo.

A spokesperson for the company told just-food today (11 October) talks were being carried out but declined to comment further on the discussions.

"Hojiblanca will publicise the agreement as soon as it is confirmed," the spokesperson added.

It is understood Hojiblanca could acquire several stakes from Spanish savings banks, totaling close to 30%, El Economista reported, although analysts suggest the company could pay the stake through an asset transfer.

"Hojiblanca already sought financing to acquire a stake in Deoleo in 2010 amid the latter's refinancing process, but there was no positive outcome," said Kepler analyst Joaquin Garcia-Romanillos.

"Moreover, Hojiblanca has a relative size when faced with Deoleo and it has no financial muscle to undertake the acquisition of a large stake in Deoleo: the 30% stake mentioned by the press has a market value of EUR114m, while up to date Hojiblanca has bank financing up to EUR30m."

Garcia-Romanillos said an agreement between Hojiblanca and Deoleo could be considered "positively" from a strategic point of view.

"Hojiblanca has a very good relationship with farmers, which would put Deoleo in a stronger position to acquire olive oil raw materials, particularly now that they are rising again. This news is likely to enhance Deoleo's speculative angle, also taking into account that BFA-Bankia and Caixabank are expected to sell their stakes shortly, but we doubt that savings banks would accept industrial assets for their stakes."

Hojiblanca is one of the largest olive oil cooperatives in Spain with revenues of EUR536m and annual olive oil production of 200,000 tonnes. Deoleo is a global leader in olive oil: its brands include Koipe, Carbonell and Bertolli.

Deoleo did not return comment at the time of going to press.