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Aqua Capital creates largest cold storage group in Brazil – exclusive

Aqua Capital, the Brazilian agribusiness private equity firm, has created the largest cold storage group in Brazil by merging portfolio company Comfrio Soluções Logísticas with Stock Tech Logística.

Aqua Capital, the Brazilian agribusiness private equity firm, has created the largest cold storage group in Brazil by merging portfolio company Comfrio Soluções Logísticas with Stock Tech Logística.

Aqua’s $173 million 2013-vintage PE fund has owned a co-controlling stake in Comfrio for three years. In this latest deal, it acquired the remaining equity capital from its original partner. The fund also bought 100 percent of Stock Tech. The total deal value was $45 million.

At the same time AGRO Merchants Group, a global cold storage company and partner with alternative investment management firm Oaktree Capital Management, bought a minority stake in the newly-merged company. This is part of a wider global expansion plan by AGRO and Oaktree: the partnership have made 11 acquisitions since March 2013 and this begins an expansion into Latin America.

“The merger of Comfrio and Stock Tech provides us with the means to meet uncovered needs in the country,” said Evandro Calanca, executive officer of the newly-merged group and operating partner at Aqua Capital. “AGRO’s investment in the business platform, in turn, makes it clear how relevant the business built by Aqua Capital is, and further strengthens the thesis of adding capacity to Comfrio and Stock Tech, with which we intend to double our market share in the next four years,” he said.

The fund is now 50 percent deployed across four deals and Sebastian Popik, managing partner at Aqua, expects to announce another deal early in 2015 as deal-making conditions in Brazil improve.

“It has been a tough year in Brazil with the political uncertainty surrounding the elections and a sharp downturn in the value of the real,” he told Agri Investor. “This volatility led us to be cautious regarding our investment plans in light of these circumstances and that’s why we were more active towards the end of the year. It also means that 2015 will be an interesting time to be investing.”