Bloomberg Línea — A decade after the conflict with the Cremonini family, a former Italian partner in Inalca, JBS announced on Monday (December 13) a new investment in the European country. The Brazilian company announced the acquisition of the century-old Italian delicatessen manufacturer King’s for $92.5 million. The operation will be carried out by its local subsidiary Rigamonti, one of the leaders in bresaola production, which guarantees the company’s expansion in the deli segment and also in the Italian market.
With the purchase, JBS incorporates to its Rigamonti operation four plants in Italy, in addition to Principe’s entire operation in the United States, which includes a plant dedicated to slicing and cutting parts in New Jersey. Besides the US market, King’s products reach more than 20 countries. The group is the market leader in the production of Prosciutto di San Daniele D.O.P. and has a relevant presence in the production of Prosciutto di Parma D.O.P.
The business also includes the commercial operation of two historic brands, known for their high quality in the Italian delicatessen market. The King’s brand, founded in 1907, and recognized by the Italian government as a “Historic Brand of National Interest”, and the Principe brand, founded in 1945. With this acquisition, Rigamonti now also owns a 20% stake in Piggly, Italy’s first sustainable, 100% antibiotic-free pig farmer, with two production units.
War of the bresaolas
JBS’s incursion into the Italian market is not recent. In December 2007 the Brazilian company acquired 50% of Inalca, becoming a partner of the Cremonini family. A corporate fight started two years later, when JBS incorporated the Bertin Group’s businesses in Brazil and elsewhere, which included Rigamonti’s assets, a direct competitor of Inalca. In practice, JBS became its own competitor.
After the purchase of Rigamonti, the relationship was never the same. The Cremonini family accused JBS of not fulfilling the exclusivity contract to operate in Italy. In turn, JBS accused the company of not complying with the shareholders’ agreement, which guaranteed the appointment of executives for key positions in the company’s operations, and even opened a lawsuit demanding an accounting expertise in Inalca’s accounts.
The dispute lasted more than two years, until in March 2011, JBS decided to return the 50% stake it had in Inalca to the Cremonini. As payback, the Brazilian company was reimbursed 219 million euros, practically the same amount it disbursed in 2007.