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October 29, 2010

SPAIN: Hojiblanca eyes SOS share offer; Sovena exits

Spanish olive oil co-op Hojiblanca hopes to buy as much as EUR200m worth of shares in Spanish food group SOS Corporacion Alimentaria while widely-expected bidder Portugal's Sovena has dropped out of the race, sources have told just-food.

Spanish olive oil co-op Hojiblanca hopes to buy as much as EUR200m worth of shares in Spanish food group SOS Corporacion Alimentaria while widely-expected bidder Portugal’s Sovena has dropped out of the race, sources have told just-food.

SOS is expected to approve a EUR600m capital offering today (28 October) to restructure its mounting debt, a move that includes the offer of EUR200m worth of new shares in the business.

Hojiblanca could team up with other peers in Andalusia to mount a bid for SOS shares, according to a spokesperson for olive-oil industry federation FAECA, which is supporting Hojiblanca’s offer. 

The Andalusian co-operatives supply much of the olive oil SOS sells through its brands in Spain. For this reason, the Andalusian government is also reportedly supporting a bid from Hojiblanca and other cooperatives. Hojiblanca itself would not return phone calls.

SOS’s share offer has triggered interest from food groups including Bunge and undisclosed US private-equity bidders.

A SOS insider confirmed Sovena would not participate in the equity offering but could make “other corporate movements” in the future. Spanish press speculated those movements could include a takeover or merger bid in the coming months. A Sovena spokesperson could not immediately return requests for comment.

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