MOROCCO – French multinational cheese producer Bel Group is on track to sell its stake in Safilait, the third-largest dairy business in Morocco, to Polish dairy player Polmlek for an undisclosed sum.

Tarmast farm, also a Moroccan business that supplies Safilait, is part of the deal the producer of cheese brands including Boursin and the Laughing Cow is finalizing.

The transaction will be effective after the approval of regulatory and competition authorities and is expected to close in the second half of 2022.

Bel has been a leader in the Moroccan market where the Group has been present for five decades and had strong brands and positions including The Laughing Cow, Les Enfants, and Kiri.

The key market for Bel has experienced increased investments, including a state-of-the-art Tangier factory, and the company has pledged to continue to invest.

The French multinational said the rationale behind the disposal is so its local operation, Fromageries Bel Maroc, can “focus on their historical cheese brands’ growth and local market-share development”.

In 2015, the group expanded its offering in Morocco by acquiring a 69.82% majority stake in Safilait, a dairy company specializing in the processing, packaging, and sale of fresh milk, UHT milk, and fresh dairy products.

The cheese company acquired the stake from private-equity firms Fipar Holding and Sopar while the remaining 30.18% interest remained under the ownership of Safilait’s founding company, Yasfi.

Since then, Bel Group has supported Safilait to develop its products and activities including well-known local brands such as Jibal.

Bel has also invested in the company’s Moroccan production facility throughout its period of ownership.

Bel detailed that it is committed to a smooth transition and will ensure a harmonious takeover by Polmlek for all stakeholders involved, including by maintaining commercial synergies and cross-functional projects.

Given its international ambition and strong expertise in the fresh dairy segment, Polmlek said it will mobilize to pursue Safilait’s development and growth achieved under Bel’s ownership.

Polmlek added: “The transaction will enable Polmlek International to implement a long-term plan of foreign expansion by establishing a footprint in the Moroccan market.”

It will be through a well-established household brand, a solid asset base, and an experienced management team.”

Polmlek, founded in 1994, currently operates 13 dairy plants in Poland, is forecasting its sales in 2022 to reach EUR2bn (US$2billionn).

Earlier, Bel acquired the remaining 17.44% of the ordinary shares of the MOM Group which offers a diversified range of fruit, milk, and vegetable products to accelerate the healthy snacking segment.

The acquisition of MOM offered Bel a highly complementary sectoral and geographic coverage, with the aim of strengthening its position in France and the United States.

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