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Universal to enter a juicy deal with FruitSmart
Posted on Thursday, 21 November 2019 12:11
Universal is purchasing US-based specialty fruit and vegetable ingredient processor FruitSmart for an announced sum.

No financial details have been disclosed but the company plans to finance the deal via a combination of cash on hand and its existing borrowing capacity.

Pending the usual customary conditions, the deal is slated to close this year.

Established in 1982, FruitSmart supplies a range of juices, concentrates, blends and purees, among other food ingredients, to food, beverage and flavour companies in the US.

The group operates from a 128,000 square feet facility, comprising offices, a production area and dry, refrigerated and freezer storage space.

FruitSmart has around 200 employees and its offerings include non-concentrate apple juice, fruit seed oils and fibres.

Upon closing, the target’s president, Terry Chambers, will continue to run the business.

Chambers said: “By joining Universal, FruitSmart and our employees will benefit from Universal’s global agri-products services and supply chain management expertise, as well as the greater resources and enhanced scale of a larger, public company.”

George C Freeman, chairman of the listed leaf tobacco company, noted the deal is in line with its strategy to broaden its offerings and to invest in the attractive plant-based ingredients processing segment.

FruitSmart will also benefit from consumer interest in the premium ingredients market, which can utilise the group’s products for ciders, purees and nutraceuticals.

Universal expects the transaction to increase its earnings in the first financial year following closing.

The Virginia-headquartered group claims to be the world’s leading leaf tobacco supplier.

Universal operates across 30 countries in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe, among other locations.

For the six months ended 30th September 2019, the company posted sales of USD 772.84 million, down 15.9 per cent from USD 919.32 million in the corresponding period of 2018.

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