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Divella: "This is why we are looking for a minority shareholder"

Exclusive: Vincenzo Divella speaks

The group is interested in the entry into the company of an exclusively industrial and international partner. The listing on stock exchange is not on the agenda.

After some rumors relaunched by Reuters and Sole 24 Ore, confirmation and some clarifications arrive from Rutigliano: Divella, the second Italian group in terms of dry pasta production volumes, is not for sale. The company aims to expand abroad and is looking for a partner, strictly industrial, and abroad. The goal, as explained by cav Vincenzo Divella, one of the CEOs of the company, in this exclusive interview, is to push on international expansion.

D. Cav. Divella, your company which has always been entirely controlled by the family, is for the first time considering opening to an external partner.

A. We have started a market research, of which we will have the definitive results shortly, but from the first data we receive further confirmation on the limits of consumption of the Italian dry pasta market, which have not increased for years and, indeed, are in slight bending. Hence the need to look at international markets: Divella's growth will have to take place more abroad than in Italy. We are facing a crossroads: either to use traditional weapons, leveraging a network of agents to reach new customers, or to find an industrial partner (and I stress industrial), located in suitable areas, such as the United States or the Arab Emirates, that gives us a boost in growth.

We are at the beginning of a process: as soon as the final market research data arrives, we will entrust an official assignment to an advisor, a specialized company, and we will carry out the first checks on the expressions of interest.

D. You already make 35% of your turnover abroad, where do you bet most?

A. Definitely increase the American market, where we are still present in a marginal way compared to our potential. Then the Middle East area, in particular Dubai with the UAE and China, all areas where there is a lot of work to do. In America, immediate results could come, in China we have a few years' perspective. As we entered with pasta in countries where it was not consumed, such as those of the former Yugoslavia or Hungary, we are confident that we can expand into China.

Q. Do you exclude a financial partner?

A. We are absolutely looking for an industrial partner, because he can help us more effectively, especially if he is from the food sector and already present on the markets that interest us.

Q. Are you still thinking of a minority shareholder?

A. Certainly, the Divella is not for sale. For almost 50 years we have been able to finance ourselves, we have no short or long-term debt, you don't need a partner to take over the company but to help us grow. This partner obviously must be able to participate in the fruits of growth and it is logical to think of a minority shareholding. Speaking of numbers on the enhancement of the company is absolutely premature, we have just started the process.

Q. Do you also foresee a landing on the stock exchange?

A. No, we don't need to recover resources from the market, but fundamentally managerial support to boost sales. We do not expect a listing either in the short or long term, we do not need to finance ourselves with any extraordinary operation. We don't need financial partners, but a partner to help us grow. It is not an urgent need but to find the best opportunity to continue growing. From the point of view of quantity, together with De Cecco we are the second group in Italy after Barilla: we are already among the leaders and we want to grow further with a foreign industrial partner.

D. Strong tensions continue on raw material prices, which are increasing sharply. Are you worried?

A. The grain market has always been a market at very low prices: it is not possible to pay for wheat at those prices and then sell pasta at the cost of a cup of coffee. Now the price of wheat is adjusting to more realistic prices. I cannot say that we are pleased that wheat has risen, because it represents a cost to us, but an adjustment was necessary. But now we expect the distribution to give us a hand to enhance the value of pasta to the consumer. Attention, we are talking about increases of 20 cents per kilo, which we consider physiological because this year in particular we are suffering from increases in foreign wheat. Italy is not self-sufficient, every year we import from 25 to 30 million quintals from abroad, about 30% of the Italian requirement, the cost of which has practically doubled from one year to the next, mainly due to the collapse of the production of some countries, especially Canada. The concern is that prices will continue to rise, because other speculative factors that are not physiological are also triggered. First we make deals with large retailers and the sooner the speculative trends stop.

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EFA News - European Food Agency