AT least three foreign investors had last week submitted bids for the company, Deoleo, leaving the government to decide whether to let foreign investors take control one of its main agricultural sectors.
Prime Minister Rajoy’s government has already warned potential investors against splitting up Deoleo’s assets, or shifting its focus away from olive oil farming.
Fondo Strategico Italiano, the Italian state-backed fund, and two private equity firms – the Carlyle Group and the Rhone Group – are three potential foreign investors in Deoleo, which distributes a fifth of the olive oil sold worldwide.
Deoleo’s brands include Carbonell and Koipe in Spain, and Bertolli and Carapelli in Italy.
Miguel Arias Canete, the Spanish agricultural minister, said: “The government is following this process very closely and is sending the message that we don’t want the company to be cut up into bits.”
“We want Deoleo to bet on Spanish oil,” he added, during a recent visit to Cordoba.
The takeover bid was launched by four Spanish banks that together own 31% of Deoleo’s equity.
Deoleo confirmed in a statement that it had received offers, without naming the potential investors, and that all the offers valued the company below its market capitalization – currently €456 million.
To keep Deoleo, the government could add a counteroffer to the mix, led by its state-owned industrial holding company Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales – or Sepi.