The financially-troubled Spanish food and drink group Nueva Rumasa has been sold for a reported €1.5bn.
The purchaser is a so-called ‘vulture fund ‘ – a private equity firm specialising in taking on debt-ridden companies – called Back in Business, which was established six months ago with a working capital of €3,000.
Nueva Rumasa is owned by the Ruiz-Mateos family and owns 15 companies, including Toro winery Marques de Olivara, which filed for bankruptcy in July.
It has been in crisis since February this year when ten of the group’s largest companies were declared insolvent.
Neither the Ruiz-Mateos family nor the new owner Ángel de Cabo, a Valenciano construction entrepreneur, will confirm the financial details, although the family still claims that the group has assets of €6bn.
Observers estimate the deal as being worth €1.5bn, although this, too, is unconfirmed.
Another of de Cabo’s companies, Posibilitum Business, took over a failing travel company, Viajes Marsans, which had got into financial difficulty, in 2010. It proved impossible to turn it round and the company was liquidated.
It remains to be seen whether any of the Rumasa group companies can be rescued.
According to the new owners the priority is to keep the group together and safeguard the jobs of the staff, which numbered some 9,000 in 2007.
However, on 20 September it was announced that dairy group Central Lechera Asturiana was offering € 48 m for Neuva Rumasa’s Cacaolat, the chocolate milkshakes producer.
In May, 2011, Rumasa had valued Cacaolat at €180m but in July made more than two-thirds of its workforce redundant.
The bodegas and brands affected by the sale of the group are members of the Garvey group.
In Jerez there is Garvey itself, Vinícola Soto, Valdivia, Zoilo Ruiz Mateos and Teresa Rivero.
Others include Cavas Hill in Penedès, Campo Nuble in Rioja, and Toro’s Marqués de Olivara.
Written by John Radford