PARIS — On Mar. 19, Bel Group and Lactalis Group announced that they had begun exclusive negotiations having signed a unilateral promise to purchase Royal Bel Leerdammer NL, Bel Italia, Bel Deutschland, the Leerdammer brand and all related rights plus Bel Shostka Ukraine, from Lactalis. Sicopa, a wholly-owned Bel subsidiary, will transfer said assets to Lactalis in return for 1,591,472 Bel shares (23.16% equity stake) held by Lactalis.
Bel Group Chairman and CEO Antoine Fievet said: “In line with our strategic priorities, we continue to grow our business and take on three further market segments, namely dairy, fruit and plant-based, and so reinforce our healthy snacking major player position. With this asset sale deal we reaffirm our independent family business model that gives us freedom to take a long-term view.”
Lactalis Group Chairman Emmanuel Besnier said: “We welcome Leerdammer and we’re excited by the prospect of building on the growth of this iconic brand that people adore. This deal gives us an opening into the Dutch cheese market and production in Holland via three manufacturing plants. The transfer to us of Bel’s Italian, German and Ukrainian sales subsidiaries will boost our facilities in these countries benefiting both Leerdammer and other Bel product sales on these markets.”
In keeping with its strategic priorities, Lactalis will try to grow Leerdammer’s global scale and facilities. Lactalis plans to ramp up its catalogue, grow its branding and moving into new high-growth world regions, expanding its presence in Europe, especially in Italy and Germany.
Selling a business including Leerdammer is in line with the Bel Group strategy since 2015. Bel took steps forward in said strategy with its 2016 MOM and 2020 All In Foods acquisitions, which aimed to take its business beyond cheese products to bolster its positioning as a healthy snacking manufacturer.
The Bel Group and Lactalis Group boards of directors have unanimously approved the unilateral promise to purchase.
Bel Group and Lactalis Group will keep markets informed of any material change to the transaction.