Marc Coucke negotiates an entry into the capital of Greenyard

Marc Coucke negotiates an entry into the capital of Greenyard

Marc Coucke is in discussions for a stake of 50 million euros in the fruit and vegetable company Greenyard.

The agreement has not yet been definitively signed, but it is said to be on the table. Taking into account a fresh money contribution of 50 million euros, Marc Coucke would take a stake of around 13.5% in the fruit and vegetable processing company Greenyard. “Something is in preparation. But nothing has been finalized yet and the amount is not final”, answers cautiously an observer.

The entry of the entrepreneur-investor would come at the right time. Greenyard is listed on the stock exchange at around 7.4 euros per share

, at the same level as at the beginning of 2019 but still well below the price of previous years.

An agreement with Marc Coucke would also be one of the key pieces of the in-depth financial overhaul of the balance sheet from Greenyard. In early February, Marc Zwaaneveld, who joined Hein Deprez as co-CEO in early 2019, indicated that the group planned to refinance some 500 million euros of debt by the end of March.

Coucke’s investment would breathe new life into Greenyard after the reorganization of recent years. Spurred on by Zwaaneveld, the heavily indebted fruit and vegetable group sold its Portuguese transport arm, the Hungarian factory where a listeria infection erupted in late 2018 and its UK flower wholesaler. In parallel, Greenyard cut 422 jobs.

Thanks to these measures as well as to profitability and cash flow regained, the The listed greengrocer’s mountain of debt melted faster than expected. On Zwaaneveld’s arrival, net debt was 7.1 times adjusted gross operating income. By the end of March – that is, the end of Greenyard’s staggered fiscal year – the group expects to hit 3.5 times.

Old acquaintance

If Coucke boards Greenyard, he’ll meet an old acquaintance there. Since April of last year, its commercial partner Joris Ide owns 3% of the fruit and vegetable group. The two friends have jointly owned 74% of RSC Anderlecht for several years. The family of Hein Deprez is still the main shareholder of Greenyard with almost half (49.3%) of the shares.

In addition, Coucke is also co-owner of the animal park Pairi Daiza, of the construction group Versluys and the operator of the covered ski rooms SnowWorld. But also a shareholder of pharmaceutical groups Mithras and Fagron, from the photo company Smartphoto and the biscuit maker Lotus Bakeries. In recent months, he has also become a shareholder in real estate companies VGP, Immobel and Xior.

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