CVC has a taste for Spain with offer for olive oil group Deoleo

OLIVE oil giant Deoleo, owner of Bertolli and Hojiblanca, looks set to be bought by Formula One owner CVC as the private equity firm targets Spanish opportunities.

British group CVC emerged as the frontrunner in an auction that included offers from the Italian government’s strategic fund and American and French private equity firms.

Four Spanish banks, including Bankia, are selling a stake of about 31 per cent in the firm. In Spain, when more than 30 per cent of a listed company is up for sale, a full takeover bid is required.

CVC bid €0.38 per share for the company, which Deoleo said yesterday was worth €439m.

Some Spanish cabinet ministers said the state may take a minority stake in Deoleo, which began life in 1992 as a rice company, expanding into biscuits then olive oil. A slew of debt-fuelled purchases followed, making it the largest olive oil group in the world, with revenues of €893m last year. In December 2010 it refinanced and sold its biscuit and rice companies.

Steve Koltes, CVC’s co-chairman, said in February that “Spain had become the next private equity paradise”.

Deoleo should find larder-fellows in CVC’s pantry in Chinese dumpling company Da Niang and Campbell’s Soup.