CI VIEW: Veyseloglu open to PE approaches for Ulduz confectionery unit, CFO

WARSAW/CERNOBBIO (CI Central Asia) —Veyseloglu Group, the privately-held Azerbaijan food and retail group, is open to approaches by private equity into its Ulduz Chocolate & Candy unit, Veyseloglu chief financial officer Ilgar Isayev said.

[Veyseloglu Group CFO Ilgas Isayev speaks to Capitol Intelligence using CI Glass at EBRD Annual meeting in Warsaw, Poland]

In an interview with Capitol Intelligence following the signing of a USD 9m loan from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Isayev said that the company would be willing to open the share capital of Ulduz to financial investors

He said the confectionery unit — which has a 25% share of the Azeri market, has an annual turnover of about USD 30m and an annual output of 15,000 tons.

The company currently exports to markets such as Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Iraq.  He also said that the Iranian market could be of interest for future growth. Isayev said the equity market in Azerbaijan is very small but the group could look at Warsaw Stock Exchange or the Istanbul Stock Exchange in the future.

Vyeseloglu financial adviser is  Azerbaijan’s Bank Respublika and the bank is ready to broker any talks from potential new investors, Bank Respublika Deputy Chairman Aslan Abasov said.

One potential investor in Ulduz could well by Hershey, PA-based Hershey (NYSE:HSY), according to Hershey independent board member and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.  Ridge said Hershey is looking at international investment opportunity following its failure to make a joint bid for Cadbury with Italy’s Ferrero group. 

Speaking with Capitol Intelligence at the European House Forum Ambrosetti held at Cernobbio, Ridge said that Hershey is seeking larger sized acquisitions and also declined to comment whether Hershey could look at acquiring Roshen, the Ukrainian confectionery group owned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.  President Poroshenko has previously said he will divest his ownership of Roshen —  valued at around USD 2bn — as required by Ukrainian law and has hired Rothschild to manage the divestment of the business.


[Former Homeland Security Secretary and Hershey board member Tom Ridge speaks with Capitol Intelligence at European House Forum Ambrosetti in Cernobbio on September 5, 2014]

The signing occurred during the EBRD’s annual meeting in Warsaw and represents one of the few private sector investments by the bank in the fast growing Central Asian nation.

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By PK Semler in Warsaw. For more information, please call +1-202-549-3399 or email