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Italy pasta maker Divella aims to sell 30% stake to a strategic partner

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The family owners of Italian pasta maker Divella are considering the sale of a 30% stake in the company to a strategic partner who will help the group to expand abroad, the group’s Co-Chief Executive Officer Vincenzo Divella told Reuters.

The sector enjoyed a rise in global demand last year as lockdowns induced by the pandemic pushed consumers to cook more at home.

Producers in mature markets, such as Italy, are particularly keen on strengthening their position in countries with low pasta consumption to benefit from expected future growth.

Divella, who is also a shareholder, said on Wednesday that the group controlled by his family plans to hire advisory firm Vitale & Co to find a strategic partner.

“The Italian market is at a standstill, we need to work more abroad… for this reason we are willing to consider a strategic partnership with someone able to help sell our products in America and China”, Divella said in a phone interview.

He added that the owners were planning to sell “initially” a 30% stake in the group.

Italy’s third-biggest pasta maker, which is based in the southern region of Puglia, reported revenue of more than 300 million euros ($354.5 million) last year, 35% of it abroad.

Private equity firms and industrial players such as Italy’s food group Newlat could be interested in Divella, a source close to the matter said. However the sale of a minority stake could be less appealing than a majority one, he added.

The sector, which is grappling with a rise in the prices of raw materials, has recently attracted the interest of private equity firms.

At the end of July Spain’s pasta maker Ebro Foods agreed to sell parts of its France-based Panzani unit to buyout fund CVC in a transaction valued at 550 million euros.

Italy is the biggest consumer of pasta worldwide, with around 23 kgs (50.7 lb) of pasta per capita every year, according to an International Pasta Organisation report.