Ukraine’s first foreign agribusiness sells its assets
By Ilya Timtchenko, Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine
Wed, Aug 1, 2018
Kyiv Atlantic Group, a grain, oil seed and vegetable protein processing agroholding, has sold three of its companies to two new owners as of last month. The price of the private transaction was not disclosed.
Kyiv Atlantic Group consisted of three companies – Kyiv Atlantic Ukraine (KAU), Atlantic Farms and Atlantic Farms II.
It was sold to Agrolife, a German supplier of oilseed, cereals and feed additives, and the two production farming companies – Kyiv Region’s Atlantic Farms and Cherkasy Oblast’s Atlantic Farms II – have been sold to Eridon, an agribusiness company owned by multimillionaire Serhiy Krolovets.
Kyiv Atlantic Group was equally owned by the Sweere Family – David, Tamara and son Daniel – and Danish company DUI Holding. The Danes joined back in 2006, when they invested about $10 million into the business.
The group has been considering a sale during the past three years.
“We showed the businesses to about 30 different companies… It was important for us to sell the three companies at the same time,” Daniel Sweere told the Kyiv Post on Aug. 1.
Located in Kyiv Oblast’s city of Myronivka – 65 kilometers south of Kyiv – KAU has been operating in Ukraine for 28 years. The 40-acre fenced area includes a grain elevator, a soybean expeller plant, and a modern feed mill. Atlantic Farms leases about 3,000 acres of arable land whereas Atlantic Farms II – 6,500 acres.
Daniel would not disclose how much the deal but the foreign investors have been paid in full from the sale of their three businesses.
The main reason for selling the three businesses was because of “diverging business interests with our Danish partners” and because Tamara and David Sweere wanting to move back to the U.S. for retirement.
On top of that, Ukraine’s business environment has not been attractive for the Minnesotans.
“The business climate in Ukraine is changing. It is very difficult to get financing, particularly after the war. And it’s just, we felt it was time,” Daniel said.
For the Sweere’s, it did matter to whom they would sell their business. They refused several other offers.
Eridon seemed to be the best fit, as Kyiv Atlantic Group has been doing business with them during the past 15 years.
“We had strong belief that the owner of Eridon is one of the better more reliable business owners that we felt would keep his word once we agreed to a deal,” Sweere said.
David and Tamara started their operations in Ukraine in 1990 with $1 million as they sold off their agricultural business in Minnesota. Daniel officially joined the company in 1994.
They received a total of $2.5 million in grants from the U.S. government as well as financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1995. Altogether, it cost them $20 million to build an agriculture processing facility with a private grain elevator.
But the Sweere’s are not completely leaving Ukraine. They decided to keep their business under the brand Multigain, an animal feed production and distribution company.
The Multigain ownership rights are now under Atlantic Brands Ukraine, a company that the Sweere’s formed this year.
The merger and acquisition transaction of the three companies was overseen by Integrites law firm that has has been working with Kyiv Atlantic Group during the past 8 years.
“The acquisition itself and structuring negotiation took us almost 1.5 years, as the deal was rather complex,” Oleksiy Feliv, managing partner at Integrites, said. “There were three companies to be sold and respectively acquired. And we had to deal with a number of buyers… And at the same time, there was a loan from… Alfa Bank and it had to be restructured too.”