CDC opens sesame buyout

17 January 2003
UK private equity investor CDC Capital Partnershas agreed to provide $20 million to the executive board of local food producer El-Rashidi El-Mizanto finance the country's first management buy-out (MBO). The 113-year-old family business is being sold by Unileverof the UK, which acquired the firm when it bought the regional operations of the US' Bestfoodsin 2000. Cairo-based Sigma Capitalis advising on the transaction (MEED 5:5:00).

Following the management buy-out, ownership will be split four ways. CDC will hold 65 per cent. The remaining equity will be held by El-Rashidi El Mizan's management, the El-Rashidi family and local shareholders. El-Rashidi is the principal Egyptian producer of the sweet and savoury sesame food products halwa and tahina, with average annual sales of about $30 million.

'We took the majority stake really in order to get things moving, but the equity balance within the consortium could well shift,' says a spokesperson for CDC. 'This is a long-term strategic entry into the Egyptian market, however, and on the private equity timeline it will be at least four to eight years before we look to substantially divest our holding.'

The MBO is CDC's first deal in Egypt since it set up a representative office in Cairo in early 2001. The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the British government's Department for International Development, provides risk capital for companies in the developing world and has some $1,200 million invested in Africa, Asia and Latin America. CDC says it does not have plans to invest elsewhere in the Levant or in the Gulf, but will consider future MBOs in Egypt and other North African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia.

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