The British fund Cinven is exploring the sale of Planasa, the largest Spanish strawberry production company, in an operation that would be valued at around 1 billion euros, as different financial sources have indicated to elEconomista . For the moment, Cinven managers have had preliminary contacts with other funds, which have approached them in the midst of an investment boom in the Spanish agri-food industry. Faced with such a situation, the firm led by Jorge Quemada in Spain is studying the possibility of launching a competitive process in the coming months, advancing its divestment a bit.
Planasa has its origins in 1973, when the Darbonne family allied with the Caja de Ahorros de Navarra (CAN) to improve their asparagus cultivation. Little by little, he began to grow other products such as strawberries, garlic and tropical products. In the 90s, the company began its internationalization by focusing on the United States and other countries of the Old Continent.
Already in 2000, the Darbonne group bought 100% of the old Navarra Plants and promoted its growth organically with new varieties of strawberries and inorganically with acquisitions outside the Spanish borders. At the end of 2017, the owners of the company decided to open the shareholding to a new financial partner that would provide them with enough financial lung to drive their growth plan.
In addition to Cinven, other well-known heavyweights of the Spanish venture capital industry also participated in this auction: Ardian and Pai Partners. The latter participated in the operation in consortium with Alantra, who at the end of 2020 bought Surexport, a company from Huelva specialized in the production of strawberries and raspberries. Other funds such as the British CVC or the American Bain also showed their interest in this company.
At the time of the acquisition of Cinven, Planasa was valued at 450 million euros , which meant multiplying its ebitda by more than 11 times. At the time, the Valtierra-based company had sales of 100 million euros. Cinven took 65% of the company and the rest was left to the founder and former CEO, Alexandre Pierron-Darbonne.
This businessman, who participates through the Label Investment company, has made different investments in the Spanish agri-food sector independently of Planasa. For example, he has been one of the reference investors of The Natural Fruit Company (TNFC), the citrus group created by the Spanish manager GPF Capital, which has recently been sold to Fremman Capital, in which Santander participates.
During these almost four years with Cinven, Planasa has made important operational improvements and has gained in professionalism. For example, at the beginning of last year, it appointed Michael Brinkmann as the new CEO of the group, which has an important track record in the agricultural sector and is focused on internationalization. During this time, in addition, the company has experienced significant double-digit growth in its turnover.
In this context, the sources consulted indicate that everything suggests that the sale of Planasa is going to be one of the most competitive processes in the coming months, thanks also to the significant commitment and investment in R + D + i carried out in recent years. years by the agricultural company.