The Baring Central European Fund (BCEF) has completed the sale of Topway Foods Int, Romania's leading margarine, ketchup, mustard and condiments producer, to Orkla Foods AS, a subsidiary of the Norwegian diversified multinational, Orkla ASA.

Topway's original founder-managers also sold their stake in the company, which produces and markets several of Romania's best selling brands, including Wiesana and Fruhstuck margarines, Tomi ketchup and Bunica mustard and sunflower oil. Topway operates a production facility in Craiova, and employs 400 people at its headquarters and its distribution centres throughout the country.

The Romanian Competition Council has approved the sale and the name of the company has been changed to Orkla Foods Romania SA. Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

BCEF, part of the ING Group, originally invested in Topway Industries SA, Topway Foods International's parent company, in August 1999. The investment financed the group's acquisition and modernisation of edible oil and margarine production facilities and the launch of several new products, including ketchup, mustard and other sauces.

Announcing the transaction, BCEF's managing partner, Gyuri Karady, commented: "Since we invested in Topway in 1999, the group has successfully grown its brands, becoming market leader in several key product categories. At the same time Topway has made significant acquisitions, continuously expanding and upgrading its production capabilities."

"The exit, the first of two planned by BCEF for 2002, generates an attractive return for our investors. In addition, the two remaining business units are leaders in their

respective market segments and as such are attractive acquisition candidates for strategic investors seeking entry into Romania, central Europe's second largest consumer market, or wanting to establish a strong regional platform for exports."

Leonard Gherghina, Topway's Chairman and BCEF's Bucharest-based Partner, added: "The transaction with Orkla Foods recognises the importance and strong competitive position of Topway in the Romanian market and reflects the value BCEF has added since its investment in 1999."