THE Spanish government is likely to buy a small stake in olive oil company Deoleo, to prevent it being lost to foreign investors.
The government’s purchase of a share in the country’s largest olive oil producer may well be made as early as next week, according to a government spokesperson.
At least three foreign investors have submitted bids for the company, Deoleo, which is responsible for around 22% of global sales of bottled olive oil.
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.
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 company was put up for sale last year by its top shareholders – 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.