Unilever’s Turkish Ice-Cream Rival Draws Takeover Bid

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A group of international investors including Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP is vying for control of Turkey’s No. 2 ice-cream maker and the biggest competitor to Unilever Plc’s products in the country, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development and Istanbul-based Afendis Capital Partners have teamed up with New York-based Davidson Kempner in making a bid to acquire 82% of Natura Gida Sanayi ve Ticaret AS, said the people, who asked not to be named as the deliberations are confidential. The company is known popularly as Golf for the name of its ice-cream brand.

The group has offered to commit a total of $90 million, which would include the acquisition price, and also go toward repaying its outstanding debt and investing for further growth, said the people.

Albaraka Turk Katilim Bankasi AS, a unit of unit of Al Baraka Banking Group BSC, owns the stake through one of its venture capital funds. The remaining 18% of the company is controlled by investors including Ergun Akkaya, its chief executive and chairman of the board, said the people.

The EBRD and Afendis Capital declined to comment, as did Albaraka and Natura Gida. Davidson Kempner didn’t respond to emailed questions.

Golf, which has been producing ice cream in Turkey since 2003, changed hands several times over the course of its history. Before Albaraka took over, it was controlled by several investors including Istanbul-based buyout firm Turkven Private Equity, and earlier by Yildiz Holding AS, which also owns Godiva chocolates and McVitie’s biscuits.

In Turkey, Natura’s Golf competes with Unilever’s Algida, the top seller in the country, among other brands. The company has two plants in the country and a production capacity of 200 million liters a year.

Turkey’s per capita ice-cream consumption is 4.6 liters a year, compared with 7 liters in Europe, according to Retail Turkiye research. The ice-cream market in the country grew 29% in volume and 56% in sales in the first four months of this year from the same period in 2020, figures compiled by Nielsen show.

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