Cinven pays €450m for Spanish berry producer

The European buyout specialist trumped peers in its attempt to buy Planasa, which it intends to develop internationally.

London-based private equity firm Cinven has purchased a majority stake in Spanish berry producer Planasa for €450 million.

Headquartered in northern Spain, Planasa focuses on plant research, nursery and the provision of fresh produce. The company provides seeds and plants directly to farmers and also supplies retailers with berries, vegetables and tree fruits. It operates 12 production sites across Europe, Asia and the Americas and has 2,080 employees worldwide.

As it announced the deal, Cinven highlighted Planasa’s development of the Adelita variety of raspberry, which the company says is valued for its high yields and resilience to fungus and disease, very long shelf life and “slightly acidic but sweet flavor.”

“Planasa is well-positioned to benefit from the strong growth in global berry consumption, underpinned by consumer trends in health and wellness, as well as snacking and convenience,” Cinven partner Maxim Crewe said.

A market source told Agri Investor that capital for Cinven’s investment came from The Sixth Cinven Fund, which closed on €7 billion last year, beating its original €5.5 billion target.

Fragmented market

According to a February 2016 public investment memorandum from the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System, the fund’s strategy calls for investments of between €150 million and €600 million in companies with resilience to economic cycles and multiple strategies for value creation.

CVC Capital Partners, PAI Partners and Ardian were reported to have also expressed interest in Planasa. Cinven said that part of what attracted it to the company was the fragmented state of the markets in which Planasa operates.

That fragmentation has been demonstrated over the past five years, which have seen Planasa itself make three acquisitions.

In September 2015, the company purchased Maamora Prim, a Morocco-based unit of the Spanish producer Primor Fruit focused on nectarines and peaches. This February, it acquired a stake in Yunnan Meiming Agriculture, a deal which the company said was designed to begin production of the Adelita raspberry variety in China. In June, the company also bought NorCal Nursery, a Red Bluff, California-based producer of strawberries and raspberries.

Cinven said it plans to continue Planasa’s expansion internationally, with China and Mexico cited as attractive opportunities due to growing demand for berries.