A deal between Spanish olive oil titans Deoleo — the global market leader with brands including Carbonell, Carapelli and Bertolli — and the Hojiblanca cooperative — the world’s biggest extra virgin olive oil producer — was announced today after weeks of rumors.
Hojiblanca will take a 9.63 percent stake in Deoleo (formerly Grupo SOS) in return for transferring ownership of its brand and Málaga bottling plant to its rival, forming what national newspaper El País described as a “world olive oil giant.”
Deoleo said the asset transfer would enhance the range and quality of its leading brands, while Hojiblanca said it would strengthen the global dominance of Spanish olive oil.
“For the Hojiblanca Group’s producers and cooperatives it means being part of the world’s top olive oil company, with dominant brands such as Carbonell (leader in Spain’s olive oil segment), Koipe, Carapelli (leading Italian brand) and Bertolli (most-recognized olive oil brand internationally and in countries such as the US), which will now be accompanied by the Hojiblanca brand, Spain’s extra virgin market leader” an Hojiblanca statement said today.
The agreement is expected to be ratified at separate meetings of Deoleo shareholders and of Hojiblanca’s General Assembly — which includes representatives of its more than 90 producer cooperatives in Andalusia — in coming weeks.
The long-rumored deal has been hotly debated within Spain’s olive oil sector lately with some fearing an anti-competitive concentration in the virgin sector — especially as Hojiblanca had been tipped to acquire a 30 percent stake — and others seeing it as likely to strengthen the position of Spanish olive oil abroad.
In a statement today to the Spanish stock market regulator, Deoleo CEO Jaime Carbó said the deal — involving the issue of new stock to Hojiblanca with a face value of €0.50 — would increase his company’s annual turnover by about €40 million ($52 million).
Madrid-based Deoleo’s turnover last year was €960.8 million ($1.26 billion) and the Málaga-based Hojiblanca group’s was 535.9 million ($702 million).
In a statement at the end of July, Deoleo said its sales for the first half of 2012, valued at €399.3 million, were down 14 per cent on the same period last year but it had reduced its debt to €639 million.
El País said Hojiblanca president José Moreno and managing director Antonio Luque were certain to take a seat on the Deoleo board.