Following negotiations announced last March, Beghin-Say on Tuesday reached an agreement to sell the Eridania group to a consortium of three Italian companies, Sadam, Co.Pro.B and Finbieticola.
Commenting on the agreement, Jerome de Pelleport, Beghin-Say's chairman and chief executive officer, said: "The sale of Eridania has generated a capital gain in line with the extensive efforts made in recent years to reorganise management, optimise the production base and develop an innovative product range.
It will enable Beghin-Say to significantly improve its return on capital employed, which is structurally weaker in Italy than in the other countries where we operate. In addition, proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down debt, which will enhance our financial flexibility and, if required, provide the funds to pursue our growth"
Eridania (with its 65 per cent-owned subsidiary ISI) is a wholly-owned Beghin-Say subsidiary that consolidates the group's sugar business in Italy where it operates eight sugar plants and a distillery. The Eridania group holds 46 per cent of the Italian A and B sugar quotas, with average annual production of 700,000 metric tons of sugar. It also produces ethyl alcohol from molasses at its distillery in Ferrare, whose output totalled around 330,000 hectolitres last year. The Eridania group had 1,360 employees and reported sales of €584.7million in 2001.
Sadam is a privately-owned company that is Italy's third largest sugar producer, with 20 per cent of Italian quotas. It produces 300,000 tons of sugar a year. Co.Pro.B., a co-operative in Emilia-Romagna, produces more than 120,000 tons of sugar. Finbieticola is a financial company for a number of associations of Italian sugar beet growers.