Enterprise Investors leads Polish drinks consolidation

The Polish private equity is building its Sonda portfolio business with the acquisition of Agros Fortune from Pernod Ricard.

Enterprise Investors, Central and Eastern Europe’s largest independent private equity firm, is to acquire Agros Fortuna, the number two producer in the Polish fruit juice market, as part of plans to build the leading Polish fruit juice producer.

Investing from its Polish Enterprise Fund IV, the firm has agreed to pay parent company Pernod Ricard $27m for a 90 per cent stake in the fruit juice business, which also produces jams and vegetable preserves. The business will be merged with portfolio company Sonda, which produces fruit and vegetable juices to create a 'future market leader’.

“The Polish juice market is fragmented, with the top five manufacturers having 66 per cent of the market,” says Ryszard Wojtkowski, partner at Enterprise Investors, who led the transaction. “In other European countries the premium and medium segments are dominated by one or two clear leaders. The planned merger would bring the situation more in line with the European standard.”

Agros Fortuna was set up in June 2000 by merging three of Agros Holding’s food processing companies. Since then management has implemented a restructuring program, increasing turnover last year to $120m. The closing of the transaction is subject to the approvals required by Polish law.

Enterprise Investors acquired its interest in Sonda in 1999, acquiring a 23 per cent stake in the business. Sonda sells drinks in the Polish market under the Sonda, Garden and Donald Duck brand names.

Enterprise Investors recently teamed with Advent International to submit a $250m offer in the auction for BTC, the telecommunications business currently being privatised by the Bulgarian government. A decision is expected within the next fortnight.