BC Partners in first agri deal since 1998

The private equity firm is making its first agri acquisition in more than 15 years, buying Dutch flower breeder Dümmen Orange for a reported €500m.

Private equity house BC Partners is to buy a majority stake in Dümmen Orange, a Dutch breeder of pot plants and flowers, from H2 Equity Partners and the Dümmen family. The deal values the company at about €500 million, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The deal is BC Partners’ first new agri investment in more than 15 years, since its acquisition of poultry life sciences group Aviagen in 1998, which it sold to Advent International five years later. The deal values Dümmen Orange at about 11 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), with financing for the transaction provided by UBS and RBC, the source added.

Headquartered in De Lier in the Netherlands, Dümmen has farms in East Africa and Central America, where it produces flowers and plants for its customers in Europe, North America and Asia. The group develops varieties and produces cuttings which are then supplied to growers globally. BC Partners declined to comment on the financial details of the investment.

“Dümmen Orange is a thriving, innovative and growing business, led by a talented and experienced management team which has an impressive track-record in floriculture and related sectors. We look forward to backing them as they pursue an ambitious growth strategy, fuelled by investments in sales & marketing, advances in breeding technologies, and selective acquisitions,” BC Partners managing partner Jean-Baptiste Wautier said in a statement.

Dümmen Orange was formed by the merger of Dümmen Group, owned by Germany’s Dümmen family, with Agribio, a non-core division of the Japanese brewer Kirin, in 2013. The business had sales of about $180m last year, and has since bolted on other acquisitions, including Costa Rican producer of perennials, herbs and annuals Florexpo, and Dutch gerbera and rose breeder Terra Nigra.

BC Partners’ deal follows hot on the heels of Sun European’s purchase of Finlays Horticulture, which produces roses in Africa for European grocery chains, for about £100 million ($154 million, €135 million). US private equity firm KKR entered the horticulture sector last year with a $200 million investment for a stake in Ethiopia’s Afriflora.

There is the prospect of further deals to come. Swiss group Syngenta is selling off both its flower and vegetable seeds businesses, which are reported to have attracted interest from numerous private equity and strategic buyers.