Cefour Wine & Beverage is currently in discussions with a Croatian company regarding a takeover (http://nordicinvestor.net/2013/07/31/special-situation-cefour-ma-action/).
So far we do not know the name of the Croatian company that is allegedly willing to pay SEK 0,40 – 0,45 a share for Cefour. We believe that one potential suitor could be a company called Agrokor (www.agrokor.hr).
Agrokor, the largest private company in Croatia
The Agrokor Group is the largest private company in Croatia and one of the leading regional companies with consolidated total revenues greater than HRK 29bn (>EUR 3.8bn) in 2011 and employing almost 40,000 people. Agrokor’s core businesses are the production and distribution of food and drinks on the one hand and retail on the other, comprising among others Croatia’s largest producers of mineral water – Jamnica d.d.; ice-cream – Ledo d.d.; oil, margarines and mayonnaise – Zvijezda d.d.; the largest Croatian meat industry – PIK Vrbovec d.d.; Belje, the largest agricultural and industrial capacity in Croatia and the leading retail chain – Konzum d.d. Agrokor is also the owner of Agrolaguna, one of the biggest wine producers in the region.
Since it was established 30 years ago, due to a clear business vision, a consistently applied strategy and well-considered investments Agrokor has grown from a small family owned company for the production and sale of flowers to become the leading food industry and retail group in the region today. The leading positions of Agrokor’s companies are reflected in their hight market shares, Ledo dominates the Croatian ice cream market, Zvijezda the margarines market, while Jamnica dominates the mineral and spring water market in Croatia.
Active on the M&A front
Having achieved and strengthened its indisputable leading positions on the market of Croatia in all of its major businesses, Agrokor has made further steps in an attempt to realize its long-term strategic objective – a key position throughout the region. Apart from the Croatian companies, the Agrokor Group today also comprises companies from all over the region acquired during the last few years: Ledo Čitluk, Sarajevski kiseljak, Velpro Sarajevo, Frikom, Dijamant, Idea, Ledo Hungary and Fonyodi. The most recent example is the acquisition of Slovenian retailer Mercator in June 2013, when Agrokor signed a contract to buy 53% of Mercator for EUR 240. Agrokor has sought to buy Mercator for years to expand into neighboring Slovenia, a European Union member since 2004, and the rest of the Balkans. Croatia joined the EU on July 1, 2013. The acquisition is expected to create the largest retail chain in central and eastern Europe, excluding Russia, with annual revenue of up to EUR 7bn. It would also employ about 60,000 people and have about 2,600 stores.
Agrolaguna’s wine business
During 2012, Agrokor issued bonds worth close to EUR 1bn, partly to refinance existing debt but certainly also to have a war chest ready when opportunities occur
Good chance that Agrokor is the bidder
To sum things up, we believe there are good reasons to believe that Agrokor is indeed the company behind the indicative bid on Cefour. The Croatians would gain a new distribution channel for their wines, a business where they have invested substantial money over recent years. Furthermore, with their vast network of retailers, they can reach great economies of scale for Easy Wine Glass and Cefour’s most recent contracts have shown how popular the product is in the Balkan region. Packaging their wines in a modern, hip way such as Easy Wine Glass could easily lift the image of Croatian wines internationally, an important marketing aspect for a company such as Agrokor. Cefour has already interesting contracts in the US and attended a large exhibition in San Diego last week, which hopefully resulted in further cooperation contracts there. This is certainly another interesting aspect for a potential bidder.