The Slovenia Times

Croatian company taking over Slovenian agri-food leader

The logo of Panvita, the Slovenian agri-food group. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

Croatian services company Mplus has acquired a 51% stake in Panvita, Slovenia's leading agri-food company, through a €50 million capital injection. The transaction is conditional on regulatory approval.

"The two groups are partnering up to position the new group as a leader in the food industry in SE Europe," Panvita said on 7 May in announcing the transaction.

The group, which marked its 100th anniversary last year, generated over €117 million in revenue and €10.3 million in gross operating profit in 2022. It employs more than 700 people.

One of the largest players in the Slovenian agricultural and food market, Panvita cultivates more than 3,500 hectares of agricultural land.

The company said the recapitalisation would enable growth and expansion through further acquisitions. The new group's headquarters and management will remain in Rakičan, in northeastern Slovenia.

"The centre of our development and operations will remain in Slovenia, but regional partnerships will be key to increasing the effectiveness of our strategy and the pace of its implementation," Panvita CEO Peter Polanič was quoted as saying.

"We have identified the Mplus group as the best strategic partner for the development and positioning of Panvita and the new group as the leading food company in the region," he added.

Mplus is a services company operating contact centres as well as being active in IT and employment services. The transaction will allow it to branch out into the agri-food industry.

The group has been present in Slovenia since 2017, when it acquired marketing communication company Linea Directa and customer support and engagement technologies firm CDE Nova Tehnologija.

It then entered into a partnership with temping agency Manpower Slovenia, acquired online marketing firm Konverzija, and became a co-owner of IEDC - Business School Bled.

"The Mplus group considers Slovenia its home market, as it is the country in the region where it has made the most investments," the Croatian company said.

The new group is expected to generate €500 million in revenue. Polanič and Panvita director general Toni Balažič will remain on the management board, but will be joined by two executives from Mplus, the latter's CEO Darko Horvat announced.

The majority ownership of Panvita had been consolidated around Regal - Trgovina and the companies Imo-Real and Imo-Rent, meaning the Polanič family.

The Slovenian Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry has expressed concern about the takeover because the new owners will gain lease contracts for more than 3,000 hectares of state-owned agricultural land that Panvita leases from the Farmland and Forest Fund.

The chamber called for legislative changes under which old lease contracts would terminate and new ones would have to be signed in case of a change in the lessee. The chamber recommended the same as poultry company Perutnina Ptuj was taken over by a Ukrainian owner in 2019.


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