Spain's Ebro buys Australia's SunRice

26th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain's largest food company, Ebro Foods, said Friday it had reached a deal to buy Australia's Ricegrowers Ltd for 600 million Australian dollars (440 million euros, 590 million dollars).

Ricegrowers is Australia's biggest rice supplier, selling under the SunRice brand, and is a major global player in rice products and pasta.

Ebro said in a statement that the two companies had signed a definitive agreement on the sale which will now go to the Australian company's shareholders and regulators for approval.

The company is world leader in the rice sector and the second group in the international pasta sector, according to its web site.

Last month, Ricegrowers chairman Gerry Lawson told a meeting of shareholders in Australia that the Ebro Foods offer "is likely to produce superior returns than other options."

SunRice, which is weighed down by high debt, sells around 500,000 tonnes of rice per year and has leading positions in its main markets, including New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East.

It controls brands such as Riviana, Sunwhite, Sunbrown, Sunlong, Calrose and Mahatma, as well as the Always Fresh label.

Ebro Foods announced on Thursday that it was buying the rice unit of Spanish group SOS for 195 million euros.

Shares in Ebro Foods posted the strongest gain of the benchmark Ibex 35 index, closing up 4.28 percent at 16.08 euros following the announcement of its purchase of SOS on Thursday.

© 2010 AFP

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