Unilever slurps up Romania’s Betty Ice

Unilever slurps up Romania’s Betty Ice
By bne IntelliNews February 1, 2018

Unilever on January 31 confirmed that it has signed an agreement to acquire the business of Romanian ice-cream producer Betty Ice. 

This would be the second significant transaction on the Romanian ice cream market, estimated at €150mn, in recent years. In April 2016, Latvian dairy company Food Union acquired Romania’s second largest ice-cream producer Alpin57Lux for an undisclosed sum.

Betty Ice is the main local ice cream producer in Romania, with a total turnover of €30mn. The company owns one factory in Suceava and has more than 180 ice-cream kiosks open during summer time, as well as ice-cream parlours in four Romanian cities. Betty Ice currently employs 760 people in Romania.

The value of the transaction is undisclosed, but Mirsanu.ro puts the value of the deal at €80mn-90mn. 

Betty Ice will operate as a standalone unit within Unilever and will be led by company’s founder and previous owner, Vasile Armenean, who will act as a general manager. 

Unilever said it hopes to benefit from Armenean’s local market expertise and knowhow, with James Simmons, managing director Unilever South Central Europe, describing the businessman as an “outstanding entrepreneur”. 

“Betty Ice is a wonderful business, much loved by Romanians,” Simmons added. 

The agreement is subject to regulatory approval by the Romanian competition authorities.

Unilever’s portfolio already includes ice-cream brands Ben & Jerry’s and Wall’s. In recent years it has carried out a series of acquisitions of ice-cream companies including the takeover of Australian ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturer Weis in 2017, and Turin-based gelato business Grom. 

The multinational was known to be in expansionary mode following an announcement in April 2017. “Back in April, spurred on and shaken up by the Kraft-Heinz approach, Unilever announced plans for a debt-fuelled growth binge, combined with a zero-based budgeting cost-cutting drive … The result is a series of bolt-on acquisitions from Myanmar to Brazil, higher sales and better margins, although turnover seems to have been impact by currency moves,” wrote Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.