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June 20, 2011

SPAIN: Bankrupt food group Nueva Rumasa investigated for fraud

Bankrupt Spanish food maker Nueva Rumasa has become the subject of a fraud investigation by the country's highest court.

Bankrupt Spanish food maker Nueva Rumasa has become the subject of a fraud investigation by the country’s highest court.

Spain’s High Court has launched the probe and asked the company’s owners to pay bail of US$13m to meet potential lawsuits from a lawsuit brought by thousands of small investors. 

The court has given Rumasa’s owner and chairman Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos, his wife, six of his sons and a nephew ten days to pay the bail, a court spokesman confirmed. 

The suit alleges Rumasa cheated investors in a recent bond sale that used several of its bankrupt units including Clesa, Dhul and Hibramer, as collateral. Rumasa has failed to pay interest or return 1,017 shareholders the initial amount invested in the notes, which totals EUR9m, according to the court.

Meanwhile, Portuguese buy-out firm Megafinance has said that time is “running out” for Rumasa to decide on the fund’s proposal to buy a part of the company that is expected to include the beleagured units Cacaolat, Dhul desserts, tomato sauce firm Apis and juice brand Frucos.

“Every day that passes by the companies’ financial situation worsens, which means it will take more money and effort to restructure the businesses,” said a source familiar with Megafinance’s concerns.

Megafinance recently raised its offer to EUR100m. Competition is heating up as bidders including Nestle and Nutrexpa have expressed interest in Rumasa’s crown jewel, chocolate shakes and biscuits maker Cacaolat. 

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