EBRD supports expansion of Soufflet storage facilities

By Axel  Reiserer

The EBRD is supporting farmers in three major eastern European agribusiness nations with a €20 million equity investment to finance the expansion plans of the Soufflet Group.

The French agribusiness concern is planning to use the EBRD funds to extend its network of grain storage and seed production facilities in Poland, Romania and Ukraine. It will consolidate all its existing and future silo and seed plant business in those countries in a new company called International Grains Silos, in which the EBRD will take a stake of no more than 35 per cent.

Soufflet Group is one of the leading private operators in the grain chain both in Europe and worldwide. Its strategy in the EBRD region is to develop an integrated supply chain, involving the collection of agricultural commodities from farmers, primary processing at silos and malt production facilities and also sales on the export markets or to ultimate users such as breweries and crushing companies.

Gilles Mettetal, EBRD Director Agribusiness, said: “We welcome this new engagement with Soufflet which will allow us to intensify our successful and long-standing cooperation. Producers in our region, which has enormous potential in agribusiness, will benefit from an improved infrastructure of storages and a transfer of know-how.”

Laurent Bernasse, Soufflet financial officer, said: “This new project confirms the impact of the EBRD on the agricultural sector in Eastern Europe. Our long-lasting partnership with the Bank provides much appreciated support for Soufflet Group’s development of grains production, exportation and processing in the region.”

The EBRD and Soufflet signed their first joint project in 1998 and have since worked together successfully on 20 investments in seven countries in malt production, grain collection, grain trading and energy efficiency as well as Technical Cooperation initiatives.

To date, the EBRD has invested more than €8 billion in more than 508 projects in the agribusiness sector in the countries where it works. The Bank’s involvement includes all activities throughout the production chain, from farming, processing and trading to food distribution, packaging and retail. The EBRD also plays a major role in developing the sector by supporting local and foreign corporate clients as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.