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Major Transition at Aryzta

ARYZTA, the Zurich-based global food business with a leadership position in speciality bakery, has announced changes to its capital structure along with a strategic review of its investment in joint ventures and major changes to its senior management.

ARYZTA has increased the covenant headroom under its senior revolving credit facility, thereby providing the Group with enhanced financial flexibility. While ARYZTA is operating within its existing covenant of 3.5 times Net debt to EBITDA, it has agreed to increase the covenant to 4.0 times Net Debt to EBITDA. The covenant amendment applies to the three tests at 31 July 2017, 31 January 2018 and 31 July 2018.

There are no incremental financing costs associated with the amendment, while ARYZTA remains at its existing covenant of 3.5 times Net Debt to EBITDA. In the event of ARYZTA moving into the range of 3.5 to 4 times Net Debt to EBITDA, financing costs would increase by 40 – 50 bps. ARYZTA has a highly cash generative business and, following a period of investment, is now in a period of strong free cash generation, with a focus on net debt reduction.

With operations in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, ARYZTA has a primary listing on the SIX Swiss Exchange and a secondary listing on the ISE Irish Exchange.

ARYTZA is currently engaged in a review of its investment strategy in joint ventures. As part of that review, ARYZTA has commenced a process with Lion Capital to evaluate investment alternatives for the Picard business. Picard is a highly attractive specialist food retailer, which has a unique proposition that is singularly relevant for modern consumers.

ARYZTA’s interest in Picard is a 49% equity stake, together with a call option on the remaining 51% stake. Net proceeds of any transaction which may monetize ARYZTA’s interest in Picard would be used to strengthen the ARYZTA Group’s balance sheet.

Meanwhile, ARYZTA’s board and executive management are working together on a transition to a new leadership team. Owen Killian, CEO; Patrick McEniff, CFO/COO; and John Yamin, CEO Americas, all members of ARYZTA Executive Management, have tendered their resignations and intend to step down from their respective roles at the end of the current financial year. ARYZTA’s board will engage a leading international recruitment firm to identify the highest caliber candidates for these important roles.

To support an orderly transition, provide stability for the business and management continuity for staff, customers and suppliers, the board has appointed three new members to ARYZTA Executive Management with immediate effect. The new appointments are Dermot Murphy, COO Europe; Ronan Minahan, COO Americas; and Robert O’Boyle, COO APMEA. Collectively these executives have combined experience of more than 40 years with ARYZTA and each brings deep knowledge of the business and industry.

Gary McGann, ARYZTA Chairman, comments: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our gratitude to Owen, Patrick and John for their contribution in building a unique infrastructure with a very strong franchise in the speciality baking industry. The newly constituted Executive Management team, together with an improved capital structure, provides stability with an objective to deliver, in time, both performance and growth.”

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€214 Million Investment in Food Union Group

Food Union Group, an international group of dairy and ice cream producing companies with a strong market share in Northern Europe and Latvia, has received a combined €214 million (US$225 million) investment from PAG, one of Asia’s largest private equity firms, and Meridian Capital, an existing investor.

Food Union’s businesses include milk processing as well as ice cream manufacturing in Northern Europe. PAG and Meridian Capital’s investment will support the expansion of Food Union with a specific focus in China, where Food Union is near completion on two modern dairy plants. In addition to capital, PAG will provide Food Union with deep country-specific knowledge and significant operational experience in support of the management team. PAG will invest €161.6 million and Meridian Capital will invest a further €52.4 million into Food Union.

“Food Union has had a tremendous year in 2016. In Europe, we have solidified our position in our home markets and have acquired two ice cream producers in Norway and Romania,” says Andrey Beskhmelnitsky, global chief executive and founder of Food Union Group. “In China, we broke ground on two modern dairy plants which are expected to bring high-end dairy products to Chinese consumers by the beginning of 2018. PAG’s investment and Meridian’s follow-on investment are an endorsement of Food Union’s strategy and we look forward to working with PAG to build a strong business of dairy products in China.”

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Food Union and Meridian Capital to help build a business to bring the best dairy products to China. There is a great demand among increasingly affluent and discerning Chinese consumers for high quality protein foods such as those Food Union produces. With its technology, knowhow and capabilities, Food Union is uniquely positioned to deliver what the Chinese market needs,” says Weijian Shan, chairman and chief executive of PAG.

Entry into China, which has one of the largest and fastest growing consumer markets in the world, is a significant step for Food Union,” remarks Askar Alshinbayev, managing partner of Meridian Capital. “We are confident that working alongside with PAG, we can deliver on our strategy to manufacture European quality dairy products which demanding Chinese consumers can enjoy and trust.”

In Europe, Food Union Group will continue focusing on high added value product development and production in dairy and ice cream segments and strengthening its market positions in the Baltics, Nordics, Central Eastern Europe and CIS countries, as well as expanding its export prospects in Middle East and China.

Currently employing more than 2,500 people, Food Union Group incorporates dairy and ice cream producing companies operating in nine countries. The group unites major dairy and ice cream companies and sales offices in Northern and Central Eastern Europe: “Rīgas piena kombināts”, “Valmieras piens”, and “Rīgas Piensaimnieks” in Latvia, “Premia” in Estonia and Lithuania, “Premier Is” in Denmark, “Isbjorn Is” in Norway, “Alpin57Lux” in Romania, “Hladokombinat No.1” in Russia, “Ingman Ice Cream” in Belarus, and two dairy production facilities currently under construction in China. Currently Food Union Group is the leading milk processing company in Latvia and the largest ice cream manufacturer in the Baltics and Denmark.

Food Union Group exports to 25+ countries all over the world, with the main markets being Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Azerbaijan, Russia and China.

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The Seed Fund Opens For Entry to Fledgling Food and Drink Businesses Across the UK

Seeking food and drink’s entrepreneurial stars of tomorrow, The Seed Fund has announced that its annual competition is open for entries from Wednesday 1 February. A philanthropic organisation, which nurtures small and start up food and drink businesses, The Seed Fund is in its fourth year of activity.

Extending its reach across the UK in 2017, The Seed Fund offers support and mentoring from over 30 industry professionals and business leaders. Twelve shortlisted companies will be offered places on The Seed Fund Academy – which runs over a number of days, during the summer months. The winning companies can attend seminars, workshops, one-on-one sessions with mentors, industry visits and meet the buyer events. One eventual winner will then be announced at the Great Taste Golden Fork Awards Dinner in September, receiving a further year of support worth over £100,000.

Founded in 2013 by Bristol-based design and marketing consultancy, The Collaborators, The Seed Fund has recently announced a new partnership with Great Taste, the world’s most coveted blind-tasted food awards. United by a shared commitment to supporting up-and-coming food businesses, the partnership will offer Great Taste award-winning small producers the opportunity to qualify for the Fund.

Open to anyone who has been trading for under four years, from small food businesses with an appetite for growth to inspired individuals with a big idea, The Seed Fund will name its class of 2017 at the end of March.

Won by Adam’s Raw Chocolate in 2016, the final prize offers support and brand development, including access to branding and communications resources from The Collaborators and on-going advice from other industry experts and mentors.

The Seed Fund will be open for entry from Wednesday 1 February until Thursday 16 March. To apply, visit www.theseedfund.co.uk. For information about ways to support The Seed Fund, including sponsorship opportunities, email info@theseedfund.co.uk.

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Piccolo Brand Joins New Female-led Funding Platform

Piccolo, the Med-inspired organic baby food brand that has successfully challenged its category with fresh flavours and artisan design, has been selected for the new crowd-funding initiative from AllBright – a unique funding platform committed to investing in and supporting female founders.

As a brand that already has two influential female investors, Jan Woods, former head of HR for Pepsi Co, and food campaigner Prue Leith; in addition to its own founder having herself invested in two start-ups led by women, the relationship with AllBright was a natural fit.

Piccolo’s founder, Cat Gazzoli (pictured) demonstrates an unfaltering drive to succeed. Starting the venture at her kitchen table less than two years ago, she has been on a phenomenal journey. Since hitting the shelves in April 2016, Piccolo has secured multi-national distribution across Asda and Waitrose stores, as well as achieving listings in Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic, Abel & Cole and Booths.

On track to hit its projected turnover of £2 million in its first year, Piccolo’s early success is credit to Cat’s entrepreneurial vision and passionate approach to business. Forging key partnerships has been fundamental in targeting the millennial parent and thanks to Cat’s personable nature she has secured relationships with Water Babies, the world’s biggest swim school, as well as being the first baby food brand ever to partner with the National Childbirth Trust, the UK’s largest parenting charity.

Government statistics reveal that 10% of women in the UK are considering starting their own business, but many need some extra help to get them going in what is widely recognised as a male dominated investor market. The statistics speak for themselves, with only 10% of all capital being invested in female-led businesses, and often aspiring businesswomen can find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer level of male dominance in this area. Cat Gazzoli was fortunate to have two fantastic female angels join her early on and now becoming one of Allbright’s debut campaigns she is firmly cementing her presence in the UK business scene.

Having been deemed outstanding during AllBright’s selection process Cat was clearly a great fit. Commenting on why AllBright was attracted to Cat, co-founder Debbie Wosskow says: “AllBright exists to unearth exceptional female talent. We invest in and support women with sound business ideas that are committed to driving change. Cat demonstrates all the qualities we are looking for and her business Piccolo, which has had a board of female investors since launch, is the perfect match for us.  Breaking into the fast moving consumer goods industry is no mean feat for any brand, but Cat has managed to succeed and scale in this marketplace whilst retaining Piccolo’s strong ethical values and commitment to giving back.”

Speaking about her involvement with Cat and Piccolo, Food campaigner Prue Leith says: “Cat Gazzolli is a force of nature. A good one. She is obsessed with good food, cooking and feeding children properly. I’ve worked with her for years, at Slow Food and the Food Education Foundation, which we started together. I’m generally wary of involvement with start-up food businesses, but I know Piccolo will succeed as long as Cat is at the helm. It’s a great concept, nutritious, delicious and ethical. I’m delighted to be involved.”

Cat adds: “Being one of AllBright’s debut campaigns is fantastic. The figures speak volumes with regards female founders and to be part of something which is so committed to supporting women in business is an honour. I certainly appreciate the support to help grow Piccolo. I don’t believe that you can start a brand now without thinking about what you want to give back, in fact this is a core part of Piccolo’s DNA. We commit 10% of our profits to food education so the better we do the more we can give back to the community.  AllBrights platform is a significant development for Piccolo to ensure we stay on track to succeed and truly make a difference in more ways than one.”

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€50 Million Loan For Polish Dairy Co-operative

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending €50 million (some PLN220 million) to dairy co-operative Mlekpol, Poland’s largest dairy manufacturer, for the construction of a powdered dairy production plant in Eastern Poland.  The EIB financing for the 2200 employee co-operative is guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe.

With the EIB’s backing, Mlekpol will construct a new milk processing facility to allow for more efficient production of higher value added dairy products. The estimated production capacity is three million litres of milk and whey per day. The investment launch is planned for 2018, while full production capacity is expected to be achieved by mid-2019. The new powdered dairy products production facility will manufacture specialised products such as high purity whey and milk protein, as well as high-quality baby food. About 160 people will be employed in the new plant. The total investment cost is estimated to be over PLN400 million.

“Mid-sized companies like Mlekpol are not only important in their regions, they are the backbone of Europe’s growth and employment,” says EIB vice-president Vazil Hudák, responsible for the bank’s activity in Poland. “Often, such companies find it unjustifiably hard to obtain finance suited to their needs. One of the EIB’s top priorities is to address this. In order to offer tailor-made financing solutions for our customers, we strive to develop innovative products, and we are delighted to see that core initiatives like the EFSI deliver right where they are needed.”

“Development of the Mlekpol Dairy Co-operative is the priority of our business strategy. The construction of the powdered dairy products production plant in Mrągowo is a big step in this direction. Thanks to the support of the European Commission and the co-financing of the investment under the so-called Juncker Plan by the European Investment Bank, we are taking this step more confidently. Our cooperation with the EIB is going very smoothly,” remarks Edmund Borawski, chairman of the board of Mlekpol Dairy Co-operative in Grajewo.

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160€ Million For Agricultural SMEs in Hungary

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Agrár-Vállalkozási Hitelgarancia Alapítvány (AVHGA) have signed a COSME agreement to enhance access to finance to up to 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) primarily in the agricultural sectors in Hungary. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe and is expected to facilitate access to HUF50 billion (€160 million) in several forms of finance for SMEs, such as investment loans, working capitals, overdraft credits and bank guarantees.

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, says: “I am delighted to see that thanks to the Investment Plan launched by this Commission, small businesses in Hungary will now be able to obtain loans they would otherwise not have had access to. The Investment Plan has proven to be a success which is why we have proposed to increase both its financial capacity and duration. I encourage Hungarian businesses to make the most of this opportunity and use these loans to boost economic growth and job creation.”

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Investment in Meadow Foods

Meadow Foods, the UK’s largest independently owned dairy group and a leading supplier of milk and dairy ingredients to the food industry, has completed a strategic investment with Paine & Partners, a leading global food and agribusiness investment firm. This strategic investment is to support Meadow Foods’ strategy to grow the business through organic expansion and acquisitions.

With this transaction, the Chantler family will remain a substantial shareholder in Meadow Foods, and there are no plans to change the executive management or the broad structure of the business. The Pickering family will exit as shareholders in Meadow Foods.

Meadow Foods operates three UK factories, located in Cheshire, Yorkshire and Peterborough. The company manufactures a full range of dairy ingredients including butters, fresh, cultured and sweetened products for some of the world’s leading food manufacturing businesses.

US-based Paine & Partners exclusively invests in food and agribusiness companies and has a team of 25 investment, operations and finance professionals focused on investing globally across the food and agribusiness value chain and throughout cycles.

Simon Chantler, executive chairman of Meadow Foods, comments: “This investment represents a new and exciting phase in the continued development of our business and will open new avenues of opportunity for all of our producer partners, customers and employees.”

Dexter Paine, chairman, chief executive and a founding partner of Paine & Partners, says: “In Meadow Foods, we are making a strategic investment in an industry leader that we believe is poised for continued growth. Meadow Foods’ experienced management team and employees have built a blue-chip customer base with a well-deserved reputation for innovation and reliable delivery of the highest-quality products. We see opportunities to drive growth both organically by increasing production, enhancing capabilities and expanding into new product lines and markets, and through strategic acquisitions that leverage the company’s supply network and customer relationships. The two most important assets to a business are its people and reputation, and Meadow Foods is exceptional in both of these areas. We are very excited to work with the team to execute its strategy for growth.”

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Facing Up to Brexit and Price Deflation in the Food and Beverage Sector

By Ian Hunter, Senior Equity Analyst at Investec

Across our three main businesses in Investec Ireland (Corporate Treasury, Corporate Finance and Wealth & Investment), we have been working with clients to address the many challenges and opportunities thrown up by both BREXIT and deflation in food retail. Volatile currency markets pose real challenges in terms of competitiveness for exporters. Brexit has closed IPO markets for now and has led to tighter forward-financing markets, less M&A opportunities and challenges for both buyers and sellers. Lastly, more volatile investment markets prevail for both cash rich companies and high net worth individuals.

The Irish agri-food sector is one of the most important indigenous industries in Ireland, generating €26bn annually, accounting for 7.6% of Ireland’s gross value added (2014), 10.7% of Ireland’s merchandised exports (2015) and 8.4% of total employment (Q116). Of national GVA, primary agriculture, fisheries and forestry together accounted of 2.5%, while the Food & Beverage industry was responsible for 5.0%. The agri-food sector employs 166,000 (CSO 2015 survey) in which the vast majority (66%) are in the primary production side of the business, with a further 28% in the food and 4% in the beverage sectors. The remainder are employed in wood processing. The sector is highly heterogeneous so while meat (19%), dairy (19%) and beverages (12%) in total account for half of all revenue generated, 44% of revenue is classified by the CSO as “other”. The remainder is made up of animal feeds, bakery products, fish, oil/fat and grain products and fruit and vegetables.

investec1september2016Prepared Consumer Foods (PCF) Category

The relatively newly defined prepared consumer foods (PCF) category encompasses all companies that process primary products into baked goods, snacks, confectionary, ready meals, cooked meats, chilled foods and ambient food products is important to the Irish economy. More than 500 manufacturing units spread across the country directly employ almost 21,000 workers and generate goods worth almost €4.1bn, over half of which is exported to over 150 markets worldwide. Exports were up 7% in 2015 to €2.5bn and have increased by over 25% since 2009. The largest contributor to exports and the main growth driver in 2015 was “value added” beef (up 33% to €266m). Chocolate/ confectionery contributed just under €250m (up 17%) followed by value added pigmeat (up 3% to €220m) and bakery (up 35% to €182m).

The sector is an important contributor to exports. Of the €26bn annually generated by the agri-food sector, over 40% (€10.8bn) is exported to over 120 countries worldwide. This rises to 46% (€12.0bn) when forestry, hides & skins and animal foodstuffs are included. The remainder meets the majority of Ireland’s grocery and food service requirements.  Exports were up in 2015 for a sixth consecutive year, this time by 3%, driven by not only higher output but also a weakening euro against sterling. On output there was growth in beverages, beef and seafood. While increased volumes counteracted weak prices in the dairy sector, weaker prices had a negative impact on pig meat exports.

Biggest Export Partner

investec6september2016The UK remains our biggest export partner (41% or €4.4bn), which makes Ireland its largest supplier of food and drink. The market grew 7% in 2015, with stronger export values for beef prepared foods, mushrooms and poultry which helped offset lower beverage and dairy values. A further 31% (€3.4bn) of goods exports were to the rest of Europe, with the remaining 28% spread across the rest of the globe. There was particularly strong export growth into North America (+19%) while exports to China and the Middle East were also higher. This offset a 70% fall in exports to Russia on the current EU boycott, which is now set to last through 2016.

For the prepared consumer foods category, the UK remains the key export market, accounting for 70% in value, with trade up 11% in 2015 to €1.75bn. Exports to other EU markets were up 9% to €520m in 2015 and accounted for c.20% of total exports in the category. While larger companies such as Kerry, Aryzta, Glanbia, Dawn Farm, Green Isle, Largo Foods, Kepak and Valeo Foods account for 50% of the sector’s output, in general, PCF companies tend to be small. Over three quarters of PCF businesses employ less than 50 people. In markets where innovation, quality, brand and customer focus are key, the Irish PCF sector is seen as an enabler for the primary producers to add value and generate sales in export markets.

Expansion is not without its challenges and the current key issue is Brexit as the industry looks to address the short term (currency) and longer term (tariff concerns) impact of the EU referendum vote and positioning to continue volume, if not initially value, growth in exports into our main trading partner.  A pre-Brexit scoping exercise conducted by ESRI for the Department of an Taoiseach estimated that the potential reduction in bilateral trade flows could be as high as 20% with a higher impact on agriculture, food and beverages as these sectors are more dependent on exports to the UK than other sectors. This estimate was based on a “worst case” scenario and came with the caveat that it is going to take more than two years for the UK to exit, giving time for the negotiation of post-exit positions, both nationally and at company-specific levels, the potential for EU/UK level tariffs notwithstanding. In a pre-Brexit exercise, Teagasc estimated the impact to Irish agri-food export values could be between 1.4% and 7% but cautioned that a higher degree of risk would be associated with companies with a substantial dependence on the UK market.  This period of uncertainty, however, is also bound to impact the investment decisions made by those in the Irish food & beverage sector on business expansion both in Ireland and the UK.

investec2september2016Period of Uncertainty

While a period of uncertainty post-Brexit is bound to impact investment decisions made by those in the Irish food & beverage sector on business expansion both in Ireland and the UK, the immediate impact has been felt in the drop in sterling. Almost overnight, Irish exports into the UK have either become 13% more expensive and, therefore, less competitive against UK produce or 13% less profitable, if retail prices are maintained.  The latter appears the more obvious scenario given the current deflationary environment in the UK food sector with retailers resistant to passing on higher currency costs. Indeed, Morrisons has already indicated that there will be no post-Brexit price increases.

While exports into the UK have always been subject to the vagaries of exchange rates, the current concern is that the recent rate move proves to be a permanent structural change rather than the more usual temporary cyclical move. Many Irish Corporates have been slow to recognise this new reality and our Corporate Treasury division is seeing less commitment from Irish exporters to place FX hedges for longer periods. While the hope is that the sterling rate will improve, the concern is that it will continue to weaken, leaving exporters further exposed.

investec3september2016Some relief for Irish corporates may come from the fact that the Post-Brexit currency moves have also impacted food manufacturers in the UK with the drop in sterling fuelling input cost inflation. Latest data from the UK Office for National Statistics shows a 4.1% rise in all food and drink production costs between June and July 2016 compared to a 1% rise between May and June 2016. This potential relief comes with the caveat that a weaker sterling obviously means that UK produced goods are now cheaper to export and may now compete more effectively in the Irish and other export markets.

Deflationary Environment

The deflationary environment in the retail sector has provided a challenge to food and drink manufacturers for over two years. Through the 2008/09 financial crisis consumers reduced their spending on food/drink, actively shopping for lower prices without compromise on quality. While overall economic conditions have subsequently improved, consumers have remained frugal, having learnt that goods at lower prices do not necessarily mean reduced quality. This move to low cost quality products and a general reduction in waste has hit supermarket margins. They have been further exacerbated by the growth of discounters. This has led to intense price wars between supermarket chains for market share, which is squeezing agri-food and drink sector margins.

investec4september2016For the food and beverage sector, this pressure has been somewhat mitigated by the sustained low prices of raw material inputs, from direct inputs such as wheat, soya, edible oils, sugar and milk to indirect inputs such as crude oil (lower manufacturing, transport, etc. costs). While global wheat and maize prices are at four-year lows, Soya has picked up off a four-year low over the past six months and sugar prices have been rallying strongly over the past year. The challenge going forward will be if and when input costs, including labour, start to sustainably tick up in an environment where retail prices are static to falling, how efficiently will producers and food manufacturer s be able to pass through the increased costs.

Brexit and the deflationary environment in the food and beverage sector present both challenges and opportunities for Irish companies in the sector both of which are being addressed by Investec. Investec Ireland actively works across the food and beverage sector both in Ireland and internationally providing hedging solutions for foreign exchange, commodity, interest rates and cash management, debt and equity capital raising, buy and sell-side M&A advice and personal financial management for key executives and shareholders. Recent transactions in the sector include the IPO of Fevertree, the investment by Spar SA in BWG Foods and the formation of Valeo Foods with the acquisition of Origin Foods, Batchelors and Jacobs Fruitfield.

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Enterprise Ireland Launches €500,000 Competitive Start Fund to Support Agricultural and Manufacturing Start-Ups

The Irish Government has launched a new €500,000 Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund to support start-up activity in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The Enterprise Ireland Fund, which provides €50,000 in equity funding for each successful applicant will open for submissions on Wednesday 21st September and will close at 3 pm Wednesday 5th October 2016.

Now in its second year, the purpose of the Competitive Start Fund is to stimulate growth for start-up companies working in areas of agriculture and manufacturing that have the capability to succeed in global markets. The fund is designed to enable those companies reach key commercial and technical milestones, that will ensure delivery of their product or service to an international audience.

The fund is open to applications from individuals, early stage companies or prospective businesses operating in the agri-business sector including but not limited to:

Ø  Machine design and manufacturing

Ø  Fabrication

Ø  Engineering and technical activities

Ø  Life science products

Ø  Farm related software and related services

Ø  Vet-pharma, animal health and chemical products

Start-up food companies with potential to export are also encouraged to apply.

Launching the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD said: “The Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund aims to provide a launch platform for young companies in this sector to establish their business and launch new products and services in international market places. A priority for the government is to help Irish entrepreneurs grow their business and the €500,000 Fund, will go towards supporting the next generation of Irish agri-businesses and manufacturers to compete in export markets, creating valuable jobs throughout Ireland.”

Anne Lanigan, Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland said, “Agri engineering is worth €250 million in exports to the Irish economy and this fund is seeking to encourage and support the next generation of engineering and manufacturing companies coming through in the agriculture sector. The Competitive Start Fund is part of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for increasing the number and quality of high potential start-up companies that have the potential to employ more than 10 and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years.

“We were encouraged to drive forward with this year’s competition, following the level of interest and the quality of applications we received last year. Applications to this year’s fund will be considered on a competitive basis and we encourage ambitious individuals and start-ups to apply”, she added.

For the third year running, Enterprise Ireland has teamed up with the National Ploughing Association and the Farmers Journal to recognise and reward outstanding innovation in the agricultural sector during the National Ploughing Championships which takes place from the 20th–22nd September 2016 in Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Enterprise Ireland representatives will be based at the Innovation Arena at the Ploughing Championships and will be on hand to provide information and answer any questions from potential applicants and entrepreneurs about the Competitive Start Fund.

Full details on the Competitive Start Fund, including the application form can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website www.enterprise-ireland.com/agricsf.

CAPTION:

Pictured (from L-R) at the launch of Enterprise Ireland’s €500,000 Competitive Start Fund to support agricultural and manufacturing start-ups are: Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD; Richard Fairman, Product Development Manager, FarmFlo; and Anne Lanigan, Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland.

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‘Brexit’ – The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Irish Food and Drink Sector

By Ian Hunter, Senior Equity Analyst at Investec

Across our main businesses in Investec Ireland – Corporate Treasury, Corporate Finance and Wealth & Investment – we have been working with clients in the food and drink sector to address the many challenges and opportunities thrown up by ‘Brexit’.

Brexit has closed IPO markets for now, tightened debt markets and reduced Merger & Acquisition activity, but it is also throwing up potential opportunities for growth. More volatile investment markets prevail for both cash rich companies and high net worth individuals. And the exchange rate volatility has brought corporate treasury decisions to boardroom tables across Ireland.

The UK currently accounts for 41% of all Irish food and beverage exports, worth €4.4bn. For the prepared consumer foods (PCF) category in particular, the UK is the key market, accounting for 70% of its total trade at €1.75bn. While larger companies such as Kerry, Aryzta, Glanbia, Dawn Farm, Green Isle, Largo Foods, Kepak and Valeo Foods account for 50% of the sector’s output, in general, PCF companies tend to be small, employing less than 50 people. In markets where innovation, quality, brand and customer focus are key, the Irish PCF sector is seen as an enabler for the primary producers to add value and generate sales in export markets.

Period of Uncertainty

While a period of uncertainty post-Brexit is bound to impact investment decisions re business expansion both in Ireland and the UK, the immediate impact has been felt in the drop in sterling. Almost overnight, Irish exports into the UK have either become 13% more expensive and, therefore, less competitive against UK producers or 13% less profitable, if retail prices are maintained. The latter appears the more obvious scenario given the current deflationary environment in the UK food sector with retailers resistant to passing on higher currency costs. Indeed, Morrisons has already indicated that there will be no post-Brexit price increases.

And while exports into the UK have always been subject to the vagaries of exchange rates, the current concern is that the recent rate move proves to be a permanent structural change rather than the more usual temporary cyclical move. Many Irish Corporates have been reluctant to recognise this new reality and we are seeing less commitment from Irish exporters to place FX hedges for longer periods. While the hope is that the sterling rate will improve, the concern is that it will continue to weaken, leaving exporters further exposed.

Some Relief

InvestecLogoAugust2016Some relief for Irish corporates may come from the fact that the Post-Brexit currency moves have also impacted food manufacturers in the UK with the drop in sterling fuelling input cost inflation. Latest data from the UK Office for National Statistics shows a 4.1% rise in all food and drink production costs between June and July 2016 compared to a 1% rise between May and June 2016.

Coupled with this, the deflationary environment in the retail sector has presented a challenge to food and drink manufacturers for over two years. Consumers have reduced their spending on food/drink, actively shopping for lower prices without compromise on quality. This move to low cost quality products and a general reduction in waste has hit supermarket margins, which have been further exacerbated by the growth of discounters. For the food production industry, this pressure has been somewhat mitigated by the sustained low prices of raw material inputs. The challenge going forward, however, will be how efficiently food manufacturers will be able to pass through any increased costs.

Investec Track Record

Investec has a track record of supporting clients across the food and drinks sector. Recent transactions include the IPO of Fevertree, the investment by Spar SA in BWG Foods and the formation of Valeo Foods with the acquisition of Origin Foods, Batchelors and Jacobs Fruitfield. Through our Corporate Treasury division, we actively work to provide hedging solutions for foreign exchange, commodity and interest rates and cash management. And our Wealth & Investment business provides Investment advice to both private individuals and corporates, access to tax expertise and pre & post retirement planning. Our international presence coupled with a dedicated on-the-ground team is a unique proposition in the Irish market. We would be delighted to discuss any of the issues above in more detail.

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€200k Feasibility Fund to Support Next Generation of Agri-business in Ireland

The Irish Government has launched a new Enterprise Ireland Competitive Feasibility Fund for agri-businesses. The Fund, which can provide up to €25,000 per initiative, is aimed at stimulating innovative start-ups and creating jobs and growth in the Irish agri-business sector.

The Fund, which is now open for applications from entrepreneurs and early stage start-up companies, will close on Tuesday 6 September 2016.

The purpose of the Competitive Feasibility Fund is to enable promoters to assess the viability and market potential of their business ideas. Enterprise Ireland is seeking to support business ideas that are likely to achieve significant growth within three to four years, with sales of €1m+ per annum and employment of 10 or more.

The fund is open to applications from individuals, early stage companies or prospective businesses operating in the agri-business sector including: machine design and manufacturing; fabrication; engineering and technical activities; life sciences products with application in the agri-sector; farm related software and related services; vet-pharma; animal health and chemical products.  Early stage food companies with the potential to export are also encouraged to apply.

enterpriselogo.095557Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD says: “In Ireland we have a strong and dynamic agri-business sector, with highly innovative companies like TrueNorth Technologies successfully winning sales in international markets. Competitive Feasibility Funds are all about developing new businesses that will create jobs in every region in Ireland – something this Government is deeply committed to. If you are a potential entrepreneur or early stage business in the agri-business sector, this Competitive Feasibility Fund can help you get started.”

Denis Duggan, CFF programme manager, Enterprise Ireland, says: “A priority for Enterprise Ireland is to help Irish entrepreneurs and companies to start up. Ireland has a world-class agri-business eco system, which offers tremendous potential for entrepreneurs and existing businesses to carve out opportunities for innovative products and services. Agri-businesses sustain and create jobs in many rural areas and are significant contributors to their local economies. Irish agricultural machinery exports alone are valued in excess of €100m per annum. With this €200k Competitive Feasibility Fund, we aim to support the next generation of Irish agri-businesses that can grow to compete in export markets, creating valuable jobs here into the future.”

Full details of the fund, including application form, are available on the Enterprise Ireland web site: www.enterprise-ireland.com/AgriFund.

CAPTION:

Pictured (L-R):Paddy Halton, Managing Director, TrueNorth Technologies; Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD; and Denis Duggan, Enterprise Ireland.

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Canadian Beverage Group Invests in Irish Craft Distiller

Mark Anthony Group, a privately owned Canadian beverage company, is reported to have invested €5.5 million for a significant but undisclosed stake in Glendalough Distillery, an Irish craft spirits producer based in County Wicklow. The Glendalough Distillery was set up in 2011 by five friends from Wicklow and Dublin with a deep passion for reviving the heritage of craft distilling in Ireland. Initially it started by producing poitín and since then has moved to whiskey and most recently the release of seasonal, wild botanical gins. The company now sells its products in more than 15 markets including the US, which generates over 60% of turnover.

Founded in 1972, Mark Anthony Group has grown organically from a one-man wine importing business to become a producer and distributor of fine wine, premium beer and today is the largest RTD (ready to drink) company in North America and the fourth largest in the world. The company’s portfolio of brands includes Mike’s Hard Lemonade®, Mike’s Harder®, Cayman Jack® and Palm Breeze Spritz®, Canada’s first sustainable brewery (Stanley Park Brewery), and the Okanagan Cider Company.

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Deliveroo Raises Capital to Drive Innovation in Global Food Delivery

Deliveroo, the global on-demand food delivery service, has announced a $275 million Series E investment, led by Bridgepoint, existing investor DST Global, and General Catalyst with participation from existing investor Greenoaks Capital. Since its Series D round in November, Deliveroo has achieved over 400% growth and reached profitability in a number of its established markets. It has also launched in 29 new cities, added an additional 9,000 new restaurant partners, and created opportunities for 6,500 riders, all while continuing to improve its already strong customer retention rates and maintaining a 30 minute average delivery time.

Deliveroo has also hit key milestones such as expanding its service to cover breakfast, express lunch, alcohol and corporate ordering, and striking deals with major partners such as PizzaExpress.

The new funds will be used to expand the service in both new and existing markets, as well as provide further investment in projects such as RooBox, a pioneering remote kitchen initiative. RooBox gives restaurants access to delivery-only kitchens in key locations, accelerating geographic expansion.

The company, which was founded in 2013 by Will Shu and Greg Orlowski, seeks to change the way the world thinks about food delivery. Deliveroo works with world-class brands and great independent restaurants to provide customers with the best possible food delivery experience. Deliveroo is headquartered in London and operates in 84 cities across 12 countries.

Will Shu, founder and CEO of Deliveroo, says: “After seeing strong growth in the markets we launched in November, our new focus is to drive further innovation in food delivery. In particular, I’m excited about exploring completely new ways to solve the hardest problems restaurants face when offering delivery. RooBox is the first illustration of this approach, and innovations like these are at the heart of our mission. We’re proud and honoured to have the support of Bridgepoint, DST Global and General Catalyst in this endeavour.”

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New Support Package Worth €500 Million For European Farmers

The European Commission has presented a new package of measures worth €500 million from EU funds to support farmers in the face of ongoing market difficulties, particularly on the dairy market. The package contains three main elements:

* A EU-wide scheme to incentivise a reduction in milk production (€150 million).

* Conditional adjustment aid to be defined and implemented at Member State level out of a menu proposed by the Commission (€350 million that Member States will be allowed to match with national funds, thus potentially doubling the level of support being provided to farmers).

* A range of technical measures to provide flexibility (e.g. on voluntary coupled support), cash-flow relief (e.g. through an increase in the amount of the advances for both direct and area-based rural development payments) and reinforce the safety net instruments (by prolonging intervention and private storage aid for Skimmed Milk Powder).

The precise details of all the different measures will be finalised in the coming weeks, in consultation with Member State experts. The budget implications of the proposed measures will be incorporated in an amending letter to the draft budget 2017 in the autumn.

Incentives to reduce production (€150m): With the most recent meeting of the Milk Market Observatory Economic Board concluding that a correction on the support side of the dairy market is still necessary, the Commission will put forward an EU-wide measure aimed at incentivising a voluntary reduction in production.

Conditional adjustment aid (€350m, plus possible national co-funding up to an equal amount. Such top-ups are not considered a state aid): With the prolonged crisis showing that some farmers maintain or even increase production in order to maintain cash flow, the Commission intends to provide new funds which can be linked to specific commitments while contributing to secure market stability. The financial grant available to each Member State (see Annex) takes into account the main features of its sector including production, market prices and the weight of small farmers. Member States will have flexibility to define the measure or mix of measures they will make available to farmers – such as extensive production methods, support for small farms, cooperation projects, further production reduction support measures, etc. There will also be scope to cover other livestock sectors.

Other technical adjustments: With many Member States providing voluntary coupled support to the dairy sector (often per cow), they will be granted the possibility to derogate from the obligation to maintain the size of the herd in 2017. Moreover, in a repetition of last year’s move, Member States will again be allowed to advance up to 70% of Direct Payments from October 16 and 85% of area-based Rural Development payments without the necessity of completing the on-the-spot checks. On the other hand, the Commission intends to extend the period for public intervention and for private storage for Skimmed Milk Powder beyond the end of September. The Commission will also update the support for withdrawals for fruit & vegetables made by producer organisations.

EuropeanCommissionThe announcement comes in addition to a separate package for 500 million that was presented by the Commission last September and the range of other measures, such as the activation of a clause (Article 222) permitting voluntary agreements among milk producers on planning milk production, which was announced in March.

In terms of additional financial resources, the Commission has, in less than a year, now mobilised in excess of €1 billion in new money to support hard-pressed farmers. At a time of significant budgetary pressures, particularly on the migration front, this is a very robust response on the part of the Commission and is a very strong statement of support for European farmers

July 2016: 7-point Solidarity Package For Agriculture

  1. Milk production reduction scheme

EUR 150 million to support a voluntary reduction of EU milk deliveries. This scheme will operate at EU level so that farmers across the Union have access to it under the same conditions.

  1. Conditional adjustment aid

EUR 350 million to be implemented by measures at Member State level (see below for amounts per Member State). MS may top –up the aid by 100%.

  1. Voluntary Coupled Support

Member States are given the possibility to review their Voluntary Coupled Support (VCS) arrangements for the dairy sector to provide that the payment is decoupled in 2017.

  1. Extension of public intervention for skimmed milk powder (SMP) beyond 30 September

Public intervention for SMP to be extended until end of February 2017, when the standard period resumes. The ceiling up to which SMP is bought-in at fixed price stays at 350 000 t until the end of December 2016.

  1. Extension of the private storage aid schemes for SMP

Both the standard (between 90 and 210 days storage) and the enhanced (365 day storage) SMP schemes to be extended until the end of February 2017.

  1. Advance payments

Advances to 70% for direct payments from 16 October 2016 and 85% for area-based rural development payments, after finalisation of the administrative checks.

  1. Fruits and vegetables

Support updated for withdrawals made by producer organisations in the fruit and vegetables sector.

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EIB Supports FrieslandCampina’s Research and Development Activities

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a €150 million loan with FrieslandCampina for R&D activities in Europe, its first ever loan to a company in the Dutch agricultural sector.

FrieslandCampina’s roots go back to 1871, when nine farmers took over a cheese factory in Wieringerwaard in the Netherlands. Through mergers it has become one of the world’s largest companies of its kind, active in over 100 countries. The company is owned by a co-operative with the same name. The operation with the EIB will sustain innovation at the company, allowing it to reinforce its leading position in a competitive market.

“The EIB is proud to support such a longstanding Dutch company,” says EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom. “Milk and its derivatives are central to most people’s diets and the importance of the research and development surrounding the products they consume should not be underestimated. Although we have already supported agriculture through SME credit facilities in the past, we see this operation as a clear example of what the EIB can do for this sector.”

FrieslandCampina will use the funding for research and development activities in facilities around Europe, with the lion’s share being carried out in its innovation centre in Wageningen in the Netherlands. The activities will focus on the areas of nutrition, food structuring, packaging and process technology, as well as on sensory and dietary demand aspects of dairy products.

Hein Schumacher, CFO of Royal FrieslandCampina, comments: “The EIB loan gives us the opportunity to finance our European research, development and innovation activities under favourable conditions. These activities are mainly carried out in our innovation centre in Wageningen where more than 300 R&D employees in various disciplines from all over the world are working together to unlock the nutritional potential of milk.”

CAPTION:

From left to right: EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom with FrieslandCampina CFOHein Schumacher.

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Kellogg Company Establishes Venture Capital Fund To Support Growth

Kellogg Company is establishing eighteen94 capital (1894) to make minority investments in companies pursuing next-generation innovation, bolstering access to cutting-edge ideas and trends. The investment mandate includes start-up businesses pioneering new ingredients, foods, packaging, and enabling technology.

“As consumer preferences move toward more diverse tastes and trends, the pace of innovation in the packaged food industry continues to intensify,” explains Gary Pilnick, vice chairman of Kellogg Company. “By investing directly in the most promising entrepreneurs and ventures, we can increase greatly our access to game-changing ideas and trends that could become significant sources of growth for us.  At the same time, we will be providing these companies with essential growth capital and access to Kellogg resources and expertise, which will help drive their ideas and businesses. It’s truly a win-win.”

KelloggsLogo1894 intends to invest approximately $100 million. As a result, it will play an important role in achieving Kellogg’s 2020 strategic growth objectives. 1894 will invest in emerging businesses in both Kellogg’s core categories and adjacent categories, and in companies that have developed new consumer-driven technologies that could lead to long-term, mutual growth opportunities. While stage-agnostic, the fund will emphasize early stage opportunities with companies that have demonstrated good product and market fit and have generated initial revenue.

1894 will be managed by Simon Burton, managing director, a 10-year executive at Kellogg who also has extensive investment experience in the Consumer Products sector and with start-ups.  In addition, Kellogg has partnered with Touchdown Ventures, which specializes in corporate venture capital, to assist with management of the fund.

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Arla Foods Broadens Its Funding Base

International dairy group Arla Foods has successfully priced an issuance of 5-year SEK bonds for a principal amount of SEK1 billion maturing on 31 May 2021 guaranteed by Arla Foods amba.

The bonds are split into two tranches: SEK500 million fixed with a coupon of 1.875%, and SEK500 million floating rate with a coupon of STIBOR 3 month plus 1.70%

The notes will be issued under the company’s Eur750 million European Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme, which is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. Danske Bank and Nordea are lead managers.

The issue refinances elements of Arla’s existing bank debt.

“This is the fourth time Arla issues bonds in the Swedish market since our inaugural issue in 2011. We have today issued a fixed rate bond with the lowest coupon ever. Arla seeks to have a well-diversified funding base and the Swedish bond market is an important part of our funding portfolio,” says Arla Foods CFO, Natalie Knight.

Arla Foods wishes to establish the broadest possible financing platform without compromising the company’s ownership structure. Consequently this is the fourth time Arla Foods has issued bonds to professional investors since 2011 as a supplement to other financing sources.

The bond issue does not affect Arla’s ownership structure and its 100 per cent ownership by its members, the dairy farmers. Arla Foods is owned by 12.700 farmers from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands.

 

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Unilever Issues €1.5 Billion Bonds on European Markets

Unilever has priced €1.5 billion in bonds on the European Markets. The bonds comprise €300,000,000 of 0 per cent Fixed Rate Notes due April 2020, €500,000,000 of 0.5 per cent Fixed Rate Notes due April 2024 and € 700,000,000 of 1.125 per cent Fixed Rate Notes due April 2028.

They are issued by Unilever NV and guaranteed by Unilever PLC and Unilever United States, Inc. The bonds have an anticipated closing date of April 29th 2016.

Unilever intends to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes.

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IFAD and EIB Join Forces in Support of Agricultural Development

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have signed an agreement to reinforce and expand cooperation between the two organisations. The agreement reflects the shared focus of IFAD and EIB on developing agribusiness and creating jobs and prosperity in the countries where the two organisations both operate. In the context of recent international agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the partnership will focus on investments in agriculture which will result in sustainable and inclusive economic growth and continued food supplies for a growing population.

Through this partnership, the two organisations aim to share knowledge, implement joint projects and provide financial instruments, such as loans and guarantees, to better channel crucial financing to help smallholder farmers maximise their potential.

EuropeanInvestmentBankLogoPim van Ballekom, EIB Vice-President, says: “Agriculture and agribusiness play a very important role throughout the world, especially in developing and emerging economies, as these sectors are huge employers and key to social issues such as livelihoods and food security. They have the ability to create more jobs and to further drive growth in a sustainable manner. But to achieve this, they need the correct approach to investment, as well as sufficient funding. They deserve our full attention and support and this is where the EIB and IFAD can make a real impact.”

“IFAD and EIB share a common belief in the importance of investing in smallholder famers and in developing rural areas. Through the Sustainable Development Goals, the world has envisioned an inspiring future. By sharing our knowledge and working together, our two organisations can make a real contribution to ending hunger, achieving food security and ensuring that agriculture is a sustainable business,” adds Associate Vice-President Henock Kifle of IFAD.

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HBAN-backed Soopa Pets to Expand

Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) Food Syndicate, the all-Ireland group responsible for promoting business angel investment, has announced an investment in Soopa Pets, the maker of healthy and nutritious dog treats. The €400,000 funding was led by business angels from the HBAN Food Syndicate, with support from Enterprise Ireland, and will see the creation of 10 jobs in Soopa Pets.

The new roles will be in customer support, sales and marketing, as the company – whose treats are now sold in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Singapore – targets further international expansion.

Founded by Barbara Hanly, Soopa Pets manufactures healthy pet treats made from 100% fruit and vegetables. After leaving a career in financial recruitment to start a dog-grooming business, Barbara was shocked to see large numbers of dogs with medical issues such as obesity, diabetes and pancreatitis. She decided to capitalise on the gap in the market for low fat, nutrient-packed treats.

Soopa Pets’ range of Soopa Chews has been specially developed to ensure pets get the most out of their treats. The chews undergo a process of dehydration, which prevents spoilage while preserving vitamins and antioxidants. The end result is treats that are produced to human grade quality and extremely healthy.

As the company looks to expand, it will benefit from the ‘smart money’ aspect of angel investing. A total of nine investors from the HBAN Food Syndicate were involved in the deal that will provided Soopa Pets with not just essential funding, but ongoing strategic support and advice, too. The investors are retail heavyweights with experience in the areas of production, sales, marketing and distribution. The HBAN Food Syndicate’s combined expertise will help Soopa Pets target a wider market base.

Barbara Hanly comments: “I was driven to set up Soopa Pets by a desire to provide something that simply wasn’t available to pet owners –healthy and nutritious pet treats. Soopa Chews are 100% natural and suitable for dogs with health issues such as diabetes or liver disease. The HBAN Food Syndicate has a wealth of knowledge and experience within the food sector and it is great to have them on board as investors, as they really understand what drives success. Their experience and advice will help Soopa Pets expand and bring our delicious, super-nutritious treat to the European market.”

Michael Culligan, national director of HBAN, a joint initiative of InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland, says: “The Soopa Pets story highlights the vital role angel investment can play in the development and international expansion of high-potential Irish start-ups. The Irish food industry is continuing to grow at an incredible rate. The investors in the HBAN Food Syndicate are well aware of the inherent potential in this area and have all been involved in starting or growing businesses in the food sector previously.”

He adds: “We in HBAN are very pleased with the evolution of the Food and other HBAN syndicates. We look forward to continuing to support the growth of Ireland as a hub for high-potential start-ups through the provision of smart investment.”

Colm Healy, entrepreneur and lead angel in the Soopa Pets investment, says: “By engaging with the HBAN Food Syndicate, Barbara has not only received the investment she needs, but also the industry expertise behind the money. She now has a panel of experienced advisors on-hand to help her as she targets further growth. As the lead angel, I now sit on the Soopa Pets board and with the help of my co-investors, will continue to provide Barbara with the support, business connections and assistance she needs to grow her business. As she sells her product to large European retailers, Barbara’s position is now strengthened through the backing of some of the industry’s biggest players who are working to help make her business a success.”

CAPTION:

Pictured (L-R) are: Stephen Twaddell, Chair, HBAN Food Syndicate; Orlagh Nolan, HBAN; Colm Healy, Investor, HBAN Food Syndicate; Pat Rigney, Investor, HBAN Food Syndicate; and Barbara Hanly, Founder of Soopa Pets.

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Proposal to Introduce Public Reporting Requirements For the Largest Companies Operating in the EU

The European Commission has presented a proposal which leads the way towards greater corporate tax transparency by introducing public reporting requirements for the largest companies operating in the EU. The plans will build on the Commission’s work to tackle corporate tax avoidance in Europe, estimated to cost EU countries €50-70 billion a year in lost tax revenues.

Supplementing other proposals to introduce sharing of information between tax authorities, it would require multinationals operating in the EU with global revenues exceeding €750 million a year to publish key information on where they make their profits and where they pay their tax in the EU on a country-by-country basis. The same rules would apply to non-European multinationals doing business in Europe. In addition, companies would have to publish an aggregate figure for total taxes paid outside the EU.

This proposal is a simple, proportionate way to increase large multinationals’ accountability on tax matters without damaging their competitiveness. It will apply to thousands of large firms operating in the EU, without affecting small and medium-sized companies.

The proposal also provides for stronger transparency requirements for companies’ activities in countries which do not observe international standards for good governance in the area of taxation. The Commission will build on its External Tax Strategy with the aim of establishing the first common EU list of such tax jurisdictions as rapidly as possible.

EuropeanCommissionJonathan Hill, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, says: “This is a carefully thought through but ambitious proposal for more transparency on tax. While our proposal on CBCR is not of course focused principally on the response to the Panama papers, there is an important connection between our continuing work on tax transparency and tax havens that we are building into the proposal.

Building on and complementing the recent Commission initiatives against tax avoidance (IP/16/159), this mandatory public country-by-country reporting will enable citizens to scrutinise the tax behaviour of multinationals. This will, in turn, encourage companies to pay tax where they make their profit.

This reporting will also support efforts to gain a better insight into Member States’ tax systems and help identify existing loopholes and mismatches, thereby shedding more light on the causes and consequences of corporate tax avoidance.

This proposal for a Directive has now been submitted to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU and the Commission hopes that this will be swiftly adopted in the co-decision process. Once adopted, the new Directive would have to be transposed into national legislation by all EU Member States, within one year after the entry in force.

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Yorkshire Game Fuels 10% Growth With Processing Investment

English wild game and venison supplier Yorkshire Game has increased turnover by 10% by investing in the latest state-of-the-art processing equipment. The company, which supplies high quality game and sustainable wild meat from estates in Scotland and northern England, has invested £534,000 in new packaging and weighing equipment as part of ongoing expansion plans.

The equipment was partly funded by catering asset finance specialist Academy Leasing and will allow Yorkshire Game to meet a recent surge in demand for high quality game from UK supermarkets.

“We already supply Michelin starred restaurants and retail suppliers but last year saw new orders from Marks and Spencer, Sainsburys and Morrisons,” says Adrian Lyons, managing director of Yorkshire Game. “Consumers are increasingly looking for lean, healthy and sustainable meat and now they expect to find it in their local supermarket rather than a specialist butcher. We have had to more than double our production capacity to meet the soaring demand.”

The company has revamped the whole factory floor at the 22,000 sq ft processing site in Richmond, creating a much smoother and more efficient process.

“The Ishida weighing and ProSeal packaging equipment makes a huge difference to our productivity and will help us meet our ambitious growth plans,” he adds. “We always research the market thoroughly for the best funding options but Academy repeatedly come out on top for their responsiveness, strong customer service and amazing turnaround times.”

Academy Leasing was able to facilitate the operation by taking advantage of its extensive funding lines with a panel of banks and specialist finance houses.

“With 30 years experience of supplying finance to the catering equipment industry, we understand the cyclical nature of some sectors like wild game and were able to provide strong justification for the business plan to secure the finance needed with a funder,” says Hazel Jacques, sales director at Academy Leasing. “We are confident that, with our help, Yorkshire Game will go on to achieve even greater success.”

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USDA: $3.4m in funding for Wheat Research

US Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack has announced the availability of $3.4 million for research projects in support of the new International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) program.

“Wheat is one of the world’s most important staple crops, providing a significant amount of daily calories and protein throughout the world,” said Secretary Vilsack. “By 2050, the demand for wheat as part of a reliable, affordable, and nutritious diet will grow alongside the world population, and continued wheat research will play an important role in ensuring its continued availability.”

Awards for this program will be made through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative , which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The new International Wheat Yield Partnership program seeks to enhance agriculture research that can benefit the global community and support the G20 nations’ Wheat Initiative with the key aims of enhancing the genetic component of wheat yield and developing new wheat varieties that are adaptable to different geographical regions and environmental conditions.

The programs priorities will focus on breakthroughs for wheat breeding using new technologies and also discoveries that lead to significantly greater yield; further, applications that demonstrate coordination and collaboration with international partners are encouraged. Applications are due May 3, 2016 and more information may be found in the NIFA-IWYP Request for Applications.

Along with the United States Agency for International Development and USDA Agricultural Research Service , the international partners involved with IWYP include the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom; Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia; Department of Biotechnology of India, from Mexico, the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; from France, the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique; and from Switzerland, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. The program addresses six priority areas to continue building a foundation of knowledge in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences critical for solving current and future societal challenges. These priority areas include:

  1. plant health and production and plant products;
  2. animal health and production and animal products;
  3. food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and environment;
  4. agriculture systems and technology;
  5. agriculture economics and rural communities.

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Nestlé Completes SFr8 Billion Share Buyback Programme

Nestlé has completed its SFr8 billion (€7.4 billion) share buyback programme initiated on 25 August 2014. Since 25 August 2014, Nestlé has repurchased 112,640,000 of its shares for a total of SFr8 billion at an average purchase price per share of SFr 71.02. 

36,400,000 repurchased shares were cancelled by the Annual General Meeting held on 16 April 2015 and the share capital of Nestlé was reduced to SFr318,840,000. The 2016 Annual General Meeting of Nestlé will decide upon the cancellation of the remaining 76,240,000 repurchased shares.

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Iglo Savours Salmon Software Treasury Management System

Iglo Group, Europe’s largest frozen food business, has implemented a cloud based Treasury Management System (TMS) from Salmon Software. Iglo Foods, which had revenues of €1.4 billion in 2014, produces, markets and distributes branded frozen food in 11 European countries. Its core brands include Birds Eye, Findus (Italy) and Iglo.

“We needed to upgrade to an automated treasury management system from Excel spreadsheets which were proving to be too cumbersome, time consuming and unreliable,” comments Gareth Roberts, IT Business Solutions Manager at Iglo Group. “We were also in the process of being acquired so needed a faster, more accurate and auditable perspective on our treasury positions.”

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application, which Iglo has implemented, is part of the Salmon Treasurer TMS suite which is also available as an on-premise offering. Salmon Treasurer helps corporate treasurers to manage foreign exchange, debt, money market, treasury, banking transactions, forecasting, derivatives and many other related treasury activities.

“We operate in 11 countries across multi-currencies so in particular we needed greater transparency of our FOREX as well as our debt positions,” adds Monika Molnar, Treasury Manager, Iglo. The new software is integrated to its banking systems and includes Salmon’s EMIR (European Market Infrastructure Regulation) reporting module. “The Salmon team has been great to deal with – highly supportive and flexible.”

John Byrne (pictured), CEO, Salmon Software, which is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, adds: “As one of the few remaining independent TMS specialists, we offer companies like Iglo the most comprehensive and flexible TMS currently available and at an affordable price.”

Independent Salmon Software, which has specialised in treasury management solutions for three decades, works with other blue chip corporates across many industries including in the food sector, Glanbia and ABP Food Group.

Salmon Treasurer is available across a range of modules including cash management, debt and derivatives, credit facilities, money markets, electronic payments and trade finance to provide a complete solution to managing a treasury operation. It can be deployed as an on-premise or cloud computing TMS solution. For further information visit  www.salmonsoftware.com.

 

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Amneal makes strategic investment in Ireland

Bridgewater, New Jersey (USA), July 31, 2015 – Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton TD today announced that Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC (www.amneal.com), a U.S.-based generic drug manufacturer, has purchased a 200,000 square foot facility in Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland.

The former Johnson & Johnson plant was sold by owner Solidus Private Equity, a Singapore-based investment firm. Amneal worked closely with Foreign Direct Investment agency IDA Ireland.

The investment is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland.

The Cashel site will be dedicated to R&D and production of metered dose and dry powder inhalers (MDIs and DPIs) as well as biosimilars – all high-end specialty medications – with each product occupying approximately 50% of the building.  Amneal expects to hire an estimated 250-300 employees at full build-out.

“Our new Ireland facility is critical to Amneal’s long-term global growth, in Europe, the U.S. and throughout the world,” explained Chintu Patel, Amneal Co-CEO and Co-Chairman.  “We appreciate the outstanding support from IDA Ireland and others in helping us establish ourselves in County Tipperary and are excited to launch our operations here.”

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Bruton said: “Through our regional jobs plans we are determined to accelerate jobs growth in every region of the country. The South East is an area which has suffered from unemployment historically, but in the past three years it has seen the fastest rate of jobs growth in the country. The project we are announcing today with support from my Department represents a massive boost for Cashel and the whole of Tipperary. I wish Chintu and all the team great success with this investment.”

Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kelly said: “Tipperary has a huge deal to offer multinational companies like Amneal and I look forward to assisting them as they set up their Cashel site. Access to talent and good infrastructure are vital for investments of this size – Amneal will find both here in Tipperary.”

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Tom Hayes said: “I have met this company previously on several occasions when they were assessing Cashel as an investment location. Cashel is a great place to invest, and one in which I hope Amneal can thrive over the coming years.”

Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland said: “Regional development is a core part of IDA Ireland’s strategy. This announcement is great news for Tipperary and the whole of the South East region. That Amneal has chosen to locate in a facility that had been occupied previously is especially pleasing and is a credit to the IDA executives who are advertising ready-to-go sites just like this in boardrooms across the world on a daily basis.”

Besides the availability of the J&J plant, Amneal chose Cashel for the quality of its local workforce, the enthusiastic support of government leaders and a positive business environment.  The company in turn brings to Cashel a proven track record of providing steady jobs, empowering employees to do their best work and collaborating with the surrounding community to build a superb operation aligned with Amneal’s core values.

From its humble start in 2002 as a contract drug manufacturer, Amneal has grown dramatically to its current position as the 7th largest U.S. generics supplier by volume.  The company has achieved this tremendous growth through its total dedication to producing the highest quality generic medicines and delivering award-winning customer service.

To become a world-class generics player, Amneal is targeting expansion in Europe, Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia and Latin America.  Pursuing strategic acquisitions or partnerships in Ireland and other countries that welcome U.S. businesses, as well as diversifying into complex, high-value products, will fuel the company’s smart, sustainable growth for years to come.

Amneal’s guiding principles—the relentless pursuit of quality in every aspect of its business, providing customers the best possible service and building long-term relationships—are what has made it a true market leader.  The management team looks forward to sharing these principles for success at the company’s new location in Ireland and actively contributing to the community of Cashel and its people.

About Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC
Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC is a global supplier of generic pharmaceuticals, vertically-integrated across the entire supply chain from R&D to finished goods. Since its inception in 2002, Amneal has invested extensively in R&D resources, manufacturing infrastructure, and strategic expansion opportunities—all contributing to its significant growth. The Company prides itself on its unwavering commitment to quality, strong business relationships, and innovative approach to maximizing value. Amneal is privately-held with U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey and international headquarters in Zug, Switzerland.  For more information, please visit www.amneal.com.

CONTACT:
Cheryl Lechok
Media Relations
Amneal
PH: +1 203.961.9280
clechok@optonline.net

Kevin Sammon
Head of Public Relations
IDA Ireland
M: +353876188564
Kevin.Sammon@ida.ie

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Oman refreshment company increases production to meet growing market demand

Carbonated soft drinks growth in Oman brings investment in Sidel Matrix™

To meet the two-digit market growth from carbonated soft drinks consumers, Oman Refreshment Company (ORC), a franchisee of PepsiCo International, has recently acquired a new production line from Sidel, the leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging, which will enable the Omani bottler to increase its production capacity.

ORC operates in different categories of the food and beverage market in Oman. The carbonated soft drinks category is the company’s main focus, which includes Pepsi, Mountain Dew and 7UP, to name but a few. ORC has an 89% market share of this category. According to industry estimates, carbonated soft drinks were the most consumed beverage items in Oman with 362.4 million litres recorded at the end of 2014, and a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.3 per cent over the next five years.

Since February 2015, ORC has been operating a Sidel Matrix Combi12 line which produces carbonated soft drinks in a 2.25 litre format at a speed of 18,000 bottles per hour. The new complete line, based on the cost-effective technology of the latest generation of Sidel Matrix equipment, will help the Omani company increase its bottling capacity through the reliable and proven Sidel Matrix system.  “Our collaboration with Sidel started around 16 years ago. Since then, we have built a strong relationship based on mutual trust, reliability and efficiency,” said Youssef Ezzikhe, General Manager of ORC. “With the growing local demand for our products and carbonated soft drinks in general, we approached Sidel again to obtain a production line which will enable us to increase production, and eventually achieve a stronger competitive edge.”

“One of the driving factors in our decision to choose Sidel again was the efficiency with which their machines operate and prompt response on after sales service. By using their machines, we will be able to increase production, cut cost and potentially reduce raw material consumption,” said Rosel Ocampo, Head of Operations at Oman Refreshment Company.  Challenging the conventions of PET container production, the modular Sidel Matrix platform includes major technological improvements to meet the needs of the liquid packaging industry.  It offers a wide range of possible configurations to cover any possible need, with each configuration delivering a high level of performance, along with a low environmental footprint.

The line also offers significant potential to reduce the consumption of raw materials and costs, particularly in terms of the amount of PET material required to produce the bottles. Despite the challenges presented by the carbonation process in terms of the bottle format, lightweighting has been applied to the 2.25 litre bottles by Sidel’s Packaging Services team, part of the Sidel Services™ business unit. To produce the lightweighted bottles at high speed, an integrated blow-fill-cap solution – the Sidel Matrix Combi – was the obvious solution. Because of the neck-handling and positive transfer of bottles between blow moulding and filling, the Sidel Matrix Combi is not bound by the limitations imposed by air conveyors. Moreover, its overall efficiency, its compact size, ergonomic design, easy maintenance and lower energy consumption all contribute to cost reductions.

“In order for us to extend our equipment and services to a wider audience, we’ve established a solid presence in the region, and we are delighted to see the continuous success and growth that our customers are achieving. By providing innovative solutions, we are enabling beverage producers to keep up with the growth in the industry in their local markets and also at the regional and global levels,” said Harbinder Kathuria, Regional Commercial Director, Greater Middle East and Africa Zone at Sidel.

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JBT Corporation announces acquisition of leading juice and dairy solutions provider

Chicago, US, 20 July 2015JBT Corporation1

JBT Corporation, a global technology solutions provider to the food processing industry, has announced an agreement to acquire Stork Food & Dairy Systems, a major European filling and sterilization solutions specialist.

Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Stork Food & Dairy Systems designs, manufactures and 
supplies market-leading integrated aseptic processing and sterilization technologies, and filling 
systems, to beverage and food processing companies worldwide.

The company specializes in extending the shelf life of packaged foods commonly found on 
supermarket shelves and in restaurants around the world, including standard and flavored milk, coffee drinks, cream, yogurt, desserts, fruit juices, soups and sauces.

Steve Smith, Executive Vice President and President of JBT FoodTech, said the acquisition 
represented a unique opportunity to combine Stork Food & Dairy Systems’ 100+ years of expertise in the juice and dairy segment with JBT’s Liquid Foods product portfolio.

He said: “We are very excited to add complementary aseptic and thermal processing and filling 
technologies to JBT’s Liquid Foods product portfolio.

“This acquisition will significantly strengthen our ability to provide complete solutions to our 
customers in the global liquid foods industry. We also are very pleased to welcome Stork Food & Dairy Systems employees to the JBT family.”

Marc Renne, Managing Partner at Nimbus, the private equity firm that was the previous owner of Stork Food & Dairy Systems B.V., said Stork Food & Dairy Systems would be able to benefit from JBT’s extensive global sales and service network to continue to grow.

He said: “I am proud that JBT, a company with a demonstrated commitment to liquid foods, has 
acquired Stork Food & Dairy Systems. This transaction secures a strong future for the company, which we believe is in the best interest of its customers and employees.”

JBT Corporation2Tom Giacomini, JBT’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer added: “Stork Food & Dairy Systems B.V. will be our second acquisition in the liquid foods sector, following the purchase of ICS Solutions in 2014.

“These two acquisitions, along with our purchase of Formcook AB and Wolf-tec, Inc., in 2014, support our Next Level strategy of acquiring leading companies that strengthen our protein processing and liquid foods portfolios.”

The purchase price for Stork Food & Dairy Systems will be €47 million, before customary 
post-closing adjustments. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2015.

About JBT Corporation

JBT Corporation is a leading global technology solutions provider to the food processing and air transportation industries.

The company designs, manufactures, tests and services technologically sophisticated systems and products for regional and multi-national industrial food processing customers through its JBT FoodTech segment and for domestic and international air transportation customers through its JBT AeroTech segment.

JBT Corporation employs approximately 3,600 people worldwide and operates sales, service, 
manufacturing and sourcing operations located in over 25 countries.

For more information, please visit
www.jbtcorporation.com.

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Irish Government Launches New €50 Million Dairy Equipment Scheme

The Irish Government has introduced the new TAMS II Dairy Equipment Scheme which is the second of the new Targeted Modernisation Schemes (TAMS II) to be launched under the new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The Scheme is open to all farmers who meet the general eligibility criteria, offering a standard rate of aid of 40%. An indicative allocation of €50 million is being made available under the terms of this Scheme over the full RDP period. The total allocation for the various on farm investment Schemes planned under TAMS II, including the Dairy Equipment Scheme, is €395 million over the course of the programme.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD comments: “This very important Scheme which will directly support the development of modern and forward-looking dairy-enterprises on farms across the country. I want to ensure that farmers have access to the most up-to-date technology to enable them compete in the modern dairy sector and to bring the highest quality product to market.”

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Whisky Group Selects Wolters Kluwer For Its Cloud-based Accounting

Loch Lomond, part of the Loch Lomond Group, has selected Wolters Kluwer’s online accounting service Twinfield UK, for its cloud accounting platform. The independent distiller and blender of some of the finest and rarest scotch whiskies in the world will use the solution across its two distillery sites in Campbeltown and Alexandria and its warehouse site in Ayrshire, Scotland.

The company chose Wolters Kluwer as it required a cloud accounting solution that could be implemented easily and quickly ahead of its new financial year.

“We needed a solution that could be implemented across multiple sites – as our users are not always based at the same location,” says Laura Cummings, Financial Controller at Loch Lomond. “Previously our accounting system had to be locally installed at each site in order for staff to gain access. This could be particularly frustrating if staff needed to access information from home or from a different site to where they were usually based.”

Cummings continues, “I had used Wolters Kluwer’s Twinfield online accounting service at my previous company, therefore I was confident that it would meet our requirements and that the team of six would be able to work from the same system, enabling any changes to be automatically updated and shared across users. Prior to using Twinfield, one member would have had to make updates on a central system which was both time consuming and also limiting to how much could be done.”

Having implemented the cloud solution in October, Loch Lomond is already seeing a number of benefits – not least that they are now more productive due to the time savings they have made using Twinfield. In addition, they are able to run regular reports in order to help bring greater connectivity, collaboration and intelligence to business and financial planning.

Cummings explains, “We’re now able to capture data instantly at a customer level providing valuable insight into trends. Previously we would have had to do this offline and it might have taken a week to gather all of the information. We are using Twinfield as a database, capturing all the data at the source and then using the time we have gained to add additional value to the business.”

Diane Williams, Interim Head of Twinfield UK at Wolters Kluwer, comments: “Cloud accounting is helping organisations such as Loch Lomond to gain greater insight for business and financial planning. It also brings speed, accessibility and ease of use to users right across the organisation and empowers those using the system with real-time data to support operational and strategic decision-making.”

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Bord Bia Launches €400,000 Fund to Boost Small Business Growth

Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) has announced a new financial support, entitled the ‘Step Change Programme’, for small Irish food, drink and horticulture businesses. The €400,000 grant scheme is aimed at companies, with a turnover between €100,000 and €5 million, embarking on a new project to take their business to the next level. In 2015, Bord Bia expects the ‘Step Change Programme’ will benefit at least eight high potential Irish businesses with individual grants of up to €50,000.

Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia’s Director of Food and Beverages, comments: “This new enhanced grants programme has been designed to assist progressive small food, drink and horticulture companies to fund a significant project that will positively impact the company’s growth. Applicants must demonstrate new, innovative developments and activities, which will involve a considerable departure for the company, for example, a product launch on a new export market, establishing a new route to market or launching a new brand range.”

Bord Bia’s existing financial programme, Marketing Assistance Programme, which provided 186 companies with a total of €976,000 in marketing grant aid in 2014, will operate as normal. The closing date for receipt of applications for both the financial programmes is Friday, 6th February 2015. For more information, visit www.bordbiavantage.ie.

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