France: Invivo aims to double Soufflet’s malting business within five years

The takeover of family owned agrigroup Soufflet including the world’s third-biggest malting group Malteries Soufflet by French cooperative InVivo Group has been completed. The acquisition that was initiated in January (, 13.1.2021) and signed in May (, 6.5.2021) was now approved by the European Commission, InVivo's chief executive Thierry Blandinieres said today.

Invivo aims to make the malting division one of the main growth drivers of the group. Blandinieres already eyes additional takeovers in South Africa, the United States, Australia, India and South America, notably Brazil, he told Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference. “We will be the biggest, with a share of 20% of the world market since we have 10% today. This is really what is at stake, why we are giving ourselves the means and why financial players have entered the capital," he said. This could make Invivo the leading malting group in the world within the next 5 years.

In order to finance further acquisitions and the purchase price which values Soufflet at EUR 2.2 billion (USD 2.5 bn), Invivo will use around EUR 1 billion (USD 1.1 bn) in proceeds from the sale of its animal nutrition unit to ADM in 2019. Furthermore the company has obtained a EUR 1.65 billion (USD 1.9 bn) bank loan and Soufflet carries out a capital increase of EUR 440 to which KKR, Bpifrance and Crédit Agricole  contribute around two thirds of the funds. This gives the three investors an ownership of 35% in the malting division.

In addition, InVivo Group announced today that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Avril Group, a French group involved in the vegetable oil and protein sector,  for of all of its shares in Soufflet Alimentaire including its Vivien Paille brand. Soufflet Alimentaire is a process and packaging specialist for rice, pulses and grain mixes, both dried and sterilized in bags, and is also the French specialist in functional flours made from gluten-free rice and pulses. Further financial details of the possible deal were not disclosed.

Invivo and Soufflet are both among the largest players in the French agricultural sector and will have combined annual sales of about EUR 10 billion (USD 11.3 bn). The grain trade will continue to be handled separately in the future, with Soufflet's current head of trade, Jean-Francois Lepy, assuming overall responsibility.

Jean-Michel Soufflet, Soufflet's Chief Executive, will be leaving the company in a few months, after having supported the first steps of the transition.

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