La Caixa takes Caprabo stake

The Catalan bank’s private equity unit has paid E200m for a 20 per cent stake in the expanding Spanish supermarket group.

Caixa Capital Desarrollo (CCD), the private equity unit of Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona (La Caixa) has provided significant development capital financing to Caprabo, one of Spain’s biggest supermarket and distribution groups.

 

CCD has invested E200m in Caprabo in return for a 20 per cent stake in the business, made available via a capital increase by three Catalan families:  Elias, Botet and Carbo, who retain the remaining shares in the business. Caixa will in return take two places on the Caprabo board.

 

Caprabo, which has annual sales of E2bn from its 500 outlets across the Catalan region of Spain, has recently begun an aggressive expansion plan designed to make it more competitive with rivals such as Mercadona and Corte Ingles's Hipercor, which operate in the mid-sized supermarket sector. The company, which was founded in 1959 and employs 15,000 people across twelve of Spain’s autonomous regions, also manages 29 service stations in Spain.

 

The business is hoping to expand into some of Spain’s other key markets and has also started negotiations to acquire rival chain Alcosto, which has a greater presence in the Mardid market. Caprabo is already the market leader in Cataluña and Navarra in addition to being the biggest online retailer of food products.

 

La Caixa has in recent years sought to grow  significantly its venture capital unit.  La Caixa, which is the largest savings bank and the third largest financial group in Spain, previously acquired 30 per cent of food group Panrico for E126m two years ago, and has since invested in a variety of other sectors.  Last year, La Caixa committed E150m to Caixa Capital Desarrollo, which is headed by Marcelino Armenter, director general of Caixa Holding.