Spain's SOS Cuetara may sell rice business

by Eric Schroeder
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MADRID, SPAIN — Grupo SOS Cuetara, S.A. is exploring the sale of its rice business in Spain, The Netherlands and the United States. According to the company, the move would help reduce a €1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) debt and appease creditors.

According to Expansion, a Spanish financial daily newspaper, Grupo SOS Cuetara’s rice business has been valued at approximately €150 million.

Grupo SOS Cuetara’s rice business interests in the United States include Houston-based American Rice, Inc., whose branded rice products are sold through grocery and food service outlets in markets located in the Western and Southeastern United States, including California, Texas and the Carolinas. The company’s brands include Comet, Adolphus, Blue Ribbon, AA and Green Peacock.

Grupo SOS Cuetara merged with American Rice in late December 2003.

The announcement comes a little more than a year after Grupo SOS Cuetara sold its biscuit business to Grupo Nutrexpa for €215 million. At that time, Grupo SOS Cuetara said the sale was part of its strategy to focus on its vegetable oil and rice businesses. The company had been looking for a buyer for the biscuit business since September 2008 to help finance its July 2008 acquisition of the Bertolli olive oil brand from Unilever. Grupo SOS Cuetara is the world’s largest olive oil bottler.

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