Spanish olive oil giant Deoleo has asked for a deferment of a €63.3 million ($83 million) tax bill to the Italian government.
The debt comes form the actions of the conglomerate’s Carapelli Firenze subsidiary, which is swimming in unpaid customs duties, tax bills, interest and penalties. The decision is pending in court.
Deoleo argues that the baggage of Carapeli Firenze should not impact the business actions of Deoleo as a whole, while the customs office sees the dependent subsidiary as being the full responsibility of the corporation.
Deoleo is the number top seller of bottled olive oil worldwide, whose 15-brand portfolio includes big names like Bertolli in the US and Italy, and the Spanish market leader Carbonell.
The news comes as another potential blow to the already hurting Deleo, which on August 28 announced net losses up to €25.5 million ($33.6 million) for the first half of 2014. The company posted a profit of €4.2 million ($5.5 million) for the same period of 2013.
The company said the losses were due to weaker sales which fell 6.4 percent to €356.9 million ($469 million) during the first half of 2014, coupled with the cost of refinancing debt. Earlier this year, the company completed a refinancing deal that cost it €23 million ($30.2 million) alone.
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However, the company stressed in a release that all is not doom and gloom. The group’s operating profit increased 49.7 percent. The earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization was up to €41.2 million ($54.1 million) due to improved margins in the key markets of Spain, Italy and North America.