The sale of family-owned Groupe Soufflet to InVivo Group, a French union of agricultural cooperatives, is now sealed. Both groups announced on Monday the signing of a binding agreement. The transaction, which “will create a pillar of French food sovereignty” according to a joint press statement, is subject to the authorization of relevant competition authorities and is expected to be finalized by the end of 2021. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed but Reuters cited a source familiar with the transaction who said the deal was worth about EUR 2.3 billion (USD 2.8 bn).
In January, InVivo Group announced to have entered in exclusive talks to acquire Groupe Soufflet in order to create a French champion in agriculture and agribusiness with an international footprint. (inside.beer, 13.1.2021)
InVivo is a group of 192 farmer-owned cooperatives bringing together almost 300,000 farmerswhich is more than half of all farmers in France. The business centers around three areas of activity - Bioline by InVivo (agriculture), InVivo Retail (garden center and food distribution) and InVivo Wine (wine). The company is slightly smaller than Soufflet and has annual sales of EUR 5.1 billion and a workforce of 5,873 employees in 19 countries.
Malteries Soufflet, which is part of Groupe Soufflet, is one of the three biggest malting companies in the world with malt houses in Europe, Latin America and Asia with a combined annual malt production capacity of 2,280,000 tons. In addition Soufflet is one of the leading milling companies in Europe.
The business of both groups is highly complementary as Invivo has no interest in the malting and milling sector and Soufflet is not involved in wine distribution. However, synergies are expected from bringing together both international grain trading activities.
“With the acquisition of Soufflet Group, InVivo complements and develops its skills, know-how and R&D activities, with the aim of expanding its sustainable supply chains – from the field to the consumer – illustrating the wealth of French agriculture through the continuation of the Soufflet brand and its talents,” the joint statement reads. “The new entity will also be better positioned to face increased European and international competition in its different business lines, and to provide sustainable solutions to French agriculture and all stakeholders of the French agri-business sector as to support the agricultural and food transition.”
InVivo also said, that the acquisition fits in the group’s strategy which is based on three ambitions: to become a key reference in innovative agricultural solutions, to invest in the agricultural and food business lines of the future, and to contribute to the economic growth and influence of French agriculture and agri-business globally. InVivo intends to boost the export of agricultural products, which remains an important lever for the French trade balance in a global agricultural sector dominated by foreign players.