Marfin acquires stake in Vivartia

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Milk production Milk Dairy

Greek investment firm Marfin is today expected to complete the
purchase of a one-third stake in the country's largest dairy and
food group Vivartia.

Through the acquisition, Marfin would take a 30 per cent interest in the company, which would retain its current management structure in a bid to better meet its growth ambitions, the company said Friday.

Greece's dairy industry, particularly in terms of milk production, has undergone difficulties in recent years with companies diversifying into new marketplaces and product lines to remain profitable as a result.

Vivartia's executive chairman Dimitris Daskalopoulos believes that in selling a stake to Marfin, the company will be in a better position to compete globally with its rivals.

"[The] agreement with [Marfin] meets all of the above criteria and signals a new era of dynamic and ongoing growth for Vivartia, in its goals to become one of the largest companies amongst its peer group globally," he stated.

The move could continue the group's recent attempts to expand its operations into new markets.

Just last month, Vivartia announced a new joint venture designed to tap into Saudi Arabia's bakery market, as well as the €18.7m acquisition of UMC, Bulgaria's largest dairy company.

Through the purchases Vivartia will also have hoped to show its commitment to both food and dairy production, after some concerns recently over the possibility of it offloading some segments.

In January of this year, Vivartia denied speculation that it was considering a possible sell off of its milk production assets, suggesting it would continue looking for investment in expanding its operations instead.

Though difficulties in milk production have been further compounded by a recent hike in the price for raw materials, the company said at the time that it would remain committed to all aspects of its dairy operations and continue to grow its brands both domestically and internationally.

Dairy sales in the Greece will continue to grow over the coming years, albeit it at a nominal rate, according to consumer analyst Euromonitor.

Between 2006 and 2011, combined sales within the sector will increase from €2.6bn to €2.7bn.

This growth belies a 4 per cent decline over the same period in sales of drinking milk products like flavoured and powdered varieties, Euromonitor added.

This variance will drive the market to fall to about €501m by 2011, from €518m in 2006.

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