Italy’s Illy seeks investor for food portfolio

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Italy’s Illy Group has hired Mediobanca as financial adviser to find a minority investor for its Polo del Gusto portfolio of food ventures, Chairman Riccardo Illy was quoted as saying by daily paper Il Sole 24 Ore on Thursday.

The new partner would take a stake of 20-40% in the business, which owns brands including Domori chocolate and Dammann Freres tea, for an investment of 50 million to 100 million euros ($59 million to $119 million), Illy told the newspaper.

Last year a source told Reuters that the Illy family was looking for a partner for the development of Polo del Gusto, adding that the selection of an ally was likely to take place in late 2020 or at the beginning of 2021.. Riccardo Illy said that, as part of the plan, Illy Group aims to list the different Polo del Gusto food brands, either individually or as group, after the arrival of the new partner.

“We will, for example, examine an initial public offering (IPO) of Domori, possibly in London, and of Dammann, which could land on the Paris stock exchange,” Illy said.

He added that the investor would also help the family to accelerate development plans for Polo del Gusto through acquisitions.

These could include companies in the biscuit and candy sector and a majority stake of candied fruit and preserve maker Agrimontana, which the group already partly owns.

Companies with turnover of between 10 million and 20 million euros in Italy, the United Kingdom and France could be possible targets, Illy said.

The Illy Group family holding company, which also owns Illycaffe coffee, is owned by Andrea Illy and his siblings Anna and Riccardo, three of the four grandchildren of the late founder, Francesco.

Premium coffee maker Illycaffe in February sold a 20% stake to private equity firm Rhone Capital, the first external investor since the group’s foundation.