Céréa Partenaire makes first Italian deal

The Unigrains affiliate is backing the transaction via both its equity and mezzanine funds, and intends to expand further in Western Europe.

Céréa Partenaire has acquired Monviso, an Italian manufacturer of crackers, bread substitutes and sweet and savory biscuits, from local buyout firm PM&Partners.

The affiliate of French agribusiness group Unigrains is using Capital II, a vehicle closed on €225 million in January 2017, to fund the transaction. Its €200 million Mezzanine III fund, closed the same month is also providing junior debt alongside specialist firm Capzanine, a spokesman for Céréa told Agri Investor.

Financial investors now own 95 percent of the business, with the balance held by the management team.

The deal marks the firm’s first deal in Italy and a milestone in its ambitions to expand in Western Europe, a strategy followed by all of its funds, the spokesman said. Aside from equity and mezzanine, Céréa is currently deploying its debut vehicle dedicated to senior debt, closed in April 2016 on €268 million.

Monviso, which has 130 employees and four facilities in Northern Italy, had sales of about €36 million in 2017, more than one-third of which from exports. It is made up of two units: Monviso, largely focused on the domestic market, and Tonon, acquired in 2015 and more geared toward exports.

The company will use the fresh capital injection to extend its product range, gain a greater foothold in the healthy food market and boost productivity at its factories, notably through automation.

The deal comes after Céréa bought Organic Alliance, France’s largest organic wholesaler, from compatriot Naxicap Partners in a €150 million transaction.