Directors at Grupo SOS, the Spanish owner of Bertolli olive oil, are to meet in the coming days to discuss a loan scandal that has seen its chairman and CEO dismissed from the business.
Chairman Jesús Salazar and CEO Jaime Salazar, who are also major shareholders in SOS with a 28% stake, were asked to leave following the revelation that the pair used a loan from the business to buy company shares.
The Salazars then planned to sell the shares to an Arab sovereign wealth fund through a holding company called Condor Plus.
The Salazars planned to sell a stake to the fund to expand the Tierra Project, which was designed to boost olive oil production.
The SOS board first became aware of the loan in a meeting on 27 February. In a second meeting on 31 March, the Salazars submitted more information about the loan.
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The SOS board announced on Thursday (30 April) that the Salazars had been dismissed. In their place, Vicente Sos has been named chairman and Endika Sanchez appointed as managing director.
Trading in SOS shares listed on the Spanish stock exchange was suspended until yesterday amid rumours that the Salazars could be forced to sell part of their stake. The shareholding had been used as collateral for the planned deal with the sovereign wealth fund.
A source close to the company told just-food that the deal with the fund had been “cancelled”. The source said the SOS board will meet either this week or next week to discuss the situation.
The source, however, could not comment on whether the board would discuss a EUR994m (US$1.34bn) syndicated loan made available to the company.
The source added that it is unclear whether the Salazars will be asked to give up their stake in SOS.