Calvo, Dongwon at odds over ownership share

By

Chris Dove, SeafoodSource.com contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
March 5, 2012

Reluctant to give up its current 77.8 percent ownership under acquisition talks with South Korea’s Dongwon Group, Spain’s leading tuna canner, Grupo Calvo, is adamant that it will retain more than 50 percent controlling share and decision-making power within the Galicia-based family company.

At the start of talks late last year, Spain’s Novagalicia Bank, Liberbank and Banca Civica had put their 22.1 percent stake in Calvo up for sale, sparking interest from Dongwon in its objective to become the world’s largest canned tuna producer.

By selling the 22.1 percent stake to three other Spanish banks, Caixanova, Caja Castilla and Caja Burgos, Calvo family members could sell their shares to increase the value of the transaction much wider than initially planned.

Placing a EUR 200 million (USD 2.63 million) bid for a 50 percent stake in Calvo, Dongwon is mindful of Calvo’s impressive balance sheet. In 2010, Calvo reported earnings before interest and taxes of EUR 27.1 million (USD 35.6 million) — an 80 percent increase on 2009 — and total revenues of EUR 492.1 million (USD 6.46 million). Calvo’s revenues in 2011 exceeded EUR 500 million (USD 657 million).

Calvo’s international market presence is highly attractive to Dongwon. Brand leader in Spain, present in more than 70 countries and expanding into U.S. and Chinese markets, 73 percent of Calvo’s turnover is generated outside Spain, largely in Brazil where it has 45 percent share of domestic canned tuna sales with its Gomes da Costa brand.

Calvo denies that it is in “advanced talks” with Dongwon and insist that under no circumstances would the family “lose majority control.”

Founded in Seoul in 1969, Dongwon’s first overseas affiliate was the Republic of Ghana, West Africa. It launched a 5,000-ton fleet in 1975 to become one of the world’s largest tuna catching companies, and has 75 percent share of Korea’s canned tuna market.

With an eye on expanding globally, Dongwon acquired U.S. canned tuna giant StarKist from Del Monte Corp. in 2008 and West African cannery Société Nouvelle de Conserverie du Sénégal in 2010.

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