‘Putting our money on priority areas’: Orkla unveils swathe of acquisitions

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Orkla investing in priority areas, opening new markets
Orkla investing in priority areas, opening new markets
Nordic food and ingredients group Orkla today (29 March) unveiled a slate of acquisitions that, it said, reflected its strategy to invest behind priority areas.

The firm said it has taken stakes in three ventures that will open the door to new growth opportunities in Europe.

Captain Kombucha: A new and increasingly popular product

Orkla has signed and completed an agreement to purchase 43.5% of the shares of the Portuguese company Asteriscos e Reticências.

The company produces fermented tea-based health drinks that are sold all over Europe under the Captain Kombucha brand.

Captain Kombucha is a “lightly sparkling”​ fermented drink made from black or green tea.

Established in 2016, Captain Kombucha is organic, vegan and gluten-free. It is also free from preservatives, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavours. According to Orkla, the brand is growing in popularity due to its health-promoting properties and good taste.

The company has rapidly grown sales. Its turnover rose from €0.9 million in the start-up year, 2017, to €3.1 million in 2018.

“In investing in the Captain Kombucha brand we are putting our money on a new and increasingly popular product. The probiotics and organic acids it contains have a positive effect on gut health, which is one of Orkla’s priority areas,”​ explained Orkla EVP and Orkla Foods International CEO Johan Wilhelmsson.

Wilhelmsson will takeover as chairman of the company known for the Captain Kombucha brand.

Captain Kombucha is currently owned by its two founders, who collectively hold an 85% stake, alongside the German venture capital firm Doehler Ventures, which is financed and supported by the ingredients manufacturer Doehler. After completion of the transaction, the founders will retain an interest of 48.5%, and Doehler will reduce its ownership share to 7.9%.
The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.

Strengthening in Swedish out-of-home

Orkla, the market leader in the Swedish grocery channel, is growing its presence in out-of-home distribution in the country through the acquisition of Lecora.

Lecora is a Swedish manufacturer of frozen and chilled vegan and vegetarian dishes. It is also a market leader for schnitzel products.

As well as tapping the plant-based trend, Orkla stressed a “substantial proportion”​ of its product range is organic.

“Orkla holds a leading position in the Swedish grocery trade, in numerous food categories. With the purchase of Lecora we are strengthening our out-of-home business and expanding our portfolio of organic, vegan and vegetarian food products,​” said Henrik Julin, CEO of Orkla Food Sverige.

“Lecora’s sustainability work and use of local ingredients make our ambitions for sustainability even greater. Lecora is a strong brand that we will develop further, and we value its local approach and the trust customers and consumers have in their products,”​ Henrik Julin concluded.

The company had a turnover of SEK95.9 million in 2018, and EBIT of SEK 5.9 million. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Kanakis: A leading position in our core categories

Finally, Orka revealed it seeks to acquire a leading Greek supplier of confectionery, bakery and ice cream ingredients, Stelios Kanakis.

“Kanakis has a leading position in our core categories, in addition to a broad-based network of customers and suppliers who are well-known to Orkla Food Ingredients. The company is well-positioned in a region that is seeing good growth,”​ commented Johan Clarin, Orkla Executive Vice President and CEO of Orkla Food Ingredients.

Kanakis is listed on the Athens stock exchange, and the founder and his family own approximately 86% of the shares. Orkla has entered into an agreement to acquire approx. 65.8% from Stelios and Maria Kanakis at a purchase price per share of EUR 4.35.

Orkla then made a voluntary tender offer to all Kanakis shareholders at an offer price of €4.36 per share.

If Orkla attains an ownership interest of over 90% in Kanakis, a squeeze-out process will be implemented and the company will be delisted. At the same time, 20% of the shares will be sold back to the Kanakis family at the same price as in the voluntary tender offer, with the result that the family will own 20% and Orkla 80% of the company.

“Orkla is very impressed by the company that Stelios and his family has built over the years and we are very much looking forward to working with the family and to continue building the company together in the future,”​ added Clarin.

The business was established in 1985 by Stelios Kanakis, who is managing director of the company and will continue to serve in that position. The had a turnover of €20.2 million in 2018, and EBIT of €3.0 million.

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