Enterprise Investors scoops ice-cream company

Polish Enterprise Fund IV has acquired shares in Zielona Budka from Paribas Affaires Industrielles.

Polish Enterprise Fund IV, the private equity fund managed by Warsaw based Enterprise Investors, has become a majority shareholder of Zielona Budka, the largest ice-cream producer in Poland. The private equity fund is investing PLN 20.5m (E5.6m) in the company.

PEF IV acquired shares in Zielona Budka from Paribas Affaires Industrielles which has been a financial investor and minority shareholder in the company since 1998. Zbigniew Grycan, the founder of Zielona Budka, explained: “Zielona Budka has been expanding rapidly for the last decade and has come to the point where it needs a strong business partner to take the company to the next level of its development. Enterprise Investors is the ideal partner for us.”

The ice-cream producer intends to strengthen its territorial presence, increase market penetration, enter new distribution channels as well as provide sales and marketing support for its distributors and franchisees.

Consumer goods are one of the primary target sectors for EI. Zielona Budka was founded in 1947. The company started as a small, private ice-cream parlour located in Warsaw. Zbigniew Grycan, its owner since 1980, has transformed Zielona Budka from a local operation into a large-scale business, with an estimated 11 per cent market share. Last year Zielona Budka moved its production facility to one of the most advanced ice-cream plants in Europe, located in a tax-exempt zone of southeast Poland. The plant has a production capacity of 20 thousand tons annually and maintains the highest quality.

Zielona Budka has 33,000 of its own branded freezers in retail points throughout Poland. Its products are also sold in all the major supermarket chains in Poland and in larger restaurant chains (e.g. TelePizza). Zielona Budka has recently developed franchised cafes in Poland and hopes to increase their number from 26 cafes to 100 by 2002. In 2000 the company sold 15m liters of ice-cream with a value of PLN 88m ($21m).

Ryszard Wojtkowski, partner at Enterprise Investors, said:“Enterprise Investors has been investing and developing strong Polish brands from the company’s inception. I am convinced that our experience will be an added value for the company and will help Zielona Budka maintain and capitalise on its number one position among the Polish ice-cream brands.”

Enterprise Investors also recently invested PLN 22m ($5.3m) in Messenger Service Stolica, a Polish provider of courier, express and parcel delivery services, and acquired 22 per cent of the company shares. This investment will increase by up to $13m within the next two years.

Enterprise Investors has been investing in Poland and Europe since 1990. It plans to invest up to $300m more in the region within the next 3-4 years.