Evergrain, the malting barley trading house, has purchased
rival Grainexx, boosting its presence in the important German market, and extending
the consolidation wave which has extended into malt groups too.
Swiss-based Evergrain said it had acquired "all the major
assets" of Germany's Grainexx, which markets some 350,000 tonnes of malting
barley a year, largely in its home country, but also in other parts of Western Europe.
The deal, which is expected to close by the end of this
month, will increase Evergrain's foothold in a German market which, thanks to
its plethora of brewers, is a major malting barley market.
Germany, while itself sizeable barley producer, imports
malting grain largely from France and the UK, but also Scandinavia.
The deal also represents Evergrain's second in less than a
year, after it last February purchased a "considerable" stake in Agro Trading
Europe, whose footprint stretches into eastern European countries such as Croatia,
Hungary and Romania.
Evergrain, which said then that it "aims to significantly
increase its global reach and traded volume over the coming years", also has
footholds in Australia and Canada, important barley exporters, and China, a
major import market.
And the Grainexx acquisition stokes something of a trend in
malting barley trading, which saw a string of start-ups around the turn of the
decade, many of which have struggled to survive in a malting barley market in
which brewers' own consolidation drive has concentrated buying power.
Market rumour suggests that commodities giant Glencore has
cutback European malting barley operations acquired with last year's purchase of Viterra, and is considering a sale of the Australian malt desk.
More deals to come?
Indeed, malting barley consultancy RMI Analytics, which has
long foreseen consolidation in the industry, questioned whether the
Evergrain-Grainexx deal would be the last.
"Does this meant the end of consolidation, or is there is
more to come?" Nikolaus Bormann, managing partner at Swiss-based RMI, said.
"The fact that we are in a highly volatile market, which means
a highly risks market, suggests there may be more."
The wave of deals has extended into the malt industry too,
most recently with the purchase by France's Soufflet of Brazil-based Malteria do
The deal lifted Soufflet's malting capacity above 2m tonnes,
closing the gap on market leader Malteurop, while also giving it its first
malting plant outside Europe and the former Soviet Union.