One Madrid-based analyst has insisted that "now is the time to sell" Grupo SOS's rice business, despite the company's insistence that it has not considered offloading the unit.

SOS has hired Credit Suisse to review operations and advise on a financial restructuring programme as it struggles under mounting debt.

"A lot of their EBITDA is going to pay debt and this situation is no longer sustainable," one Madrid-based analyst told just-food. SOS must work to reduce its EUR2bn (US$2.86bn) debt as it has missed some loan payments, the source added.

The company has confirmed that it is considering selling off some areas of its business, including its Uca olive oil brand and vinegar, condiments and canned olive brands Louit and Giralda. The move could raise around EUR80m. 

The analyst said Sos is unlikely to sell its premium cooking and olive oil brands Koipe, Carbonell, Bertolli, Carapelli and Sasso. 

While a spokesperson for SOS told just-food earlier this week that the board "has not studied" a potential sale of the rice business, the analyst said that the unit was currently well positioned to fetch a good price.

"This is a good and very well known business that has improving profitability so now is the time to sell it," he insisted.

According to estimates, a sale of the division could fetch EUR170m-EUR200m.