illycaffè sells minority stake in company to Rhône Capital

illycaffè SpA has sold a minority stake of the company to affiliates of Rhône Capital, a global private equity firm with a focus on investments in businesses with pan-European, North American or transatlantic presence.

illycaffè chose Rhône as its partner to lead the company into its next phase of international growth after a long and rigorous selection process which took more than a year. Founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy, the Trieste, Italy-based company has built a global premium coffee brand present in more than 140 countries and recognised for the superior quality of its unique blend, as well as for its strong ethical values focused on sustainable business practices and close relationships with the coffee growers’ community.

Rhône was chosen for its ability to contribute to illy’s international footprint expansion, particularly in the US, and will serve as a resource to further strengthen the company’s platform in executing its growth plans. The partnership with Rhône represents another key milestone on the path to firmly establishing illycaffè as a management-led company underpinned by the continued solid strategic vision of the family. This strategic decision will further solidify the global leadership position of illycaffè and complement the generational transition that has already begun with the appointment of the fourth generation of the Illy family to the Board of Directors, who enthusiastically approved this new partnership.

Commenting on the transaction, Andrea Illy, chairman of illycaffè, said, “We chose Rhône as a travel companion for this next phase of growth because of their deep, global experience in strategically partnering with family-owned companies and based on their ability to understand illy’s unique, premium positioning rooted in its superior quality, longstanding heritage and authentic, sustainable business model. By partnering with illycaffè, Rhône has demonstrated that it shares our inclusive approach to value creation, which considers all our stakeholders and is deployed in combination with the pursuit of the highest ethical standards in running our business. I strongly believe that Rhône will be an ideal partner as we continue to realise our dream of offering the greatest coffee to the world, which is our foundation and uncompromised vision for the future.”

“Rhône has a formidable track record in helping its portfolio companies grow internationally, particularly in the US, a key market in our growth plans,” said Massimiliano Pogliani, CEO of illycaffè. “In addition to Rhône’s partnership approach to investing, I truly welcome their contribution to illycaffè’s board thanks to Rhône’s proven expertise in supporting the implementation of the strategic plans and particularly the initiatives related to digital transformation, a key strategic lever within illy’s plans and a capability that is becoming increasingly relevant in the current business environment.”

Robert Agostinelli, co-founder and managing director at Rhône said, “We are honoured to have been chosen by Andrea Illy and the rest of his family as their partner to support them in their long-term international strategic objectives. illycaffè is a standard bearer of how multi-generational family ownership can shepherd and enhance a sterling brand identity across the globe. We were drawn to the quality of illy’s underlying business, their approach to value creation, and their impeccable ethical standards, which are reflected in both their corporate governance and commitment to sustainability.”

Completion of the transaction is expected to take place by the end of the first quarter of 2021 subject to customary regulatory approvals.

illycaffè has been advised in this transaction by Goldman Sachs International, Studio Sabelli Benazzo and by Studio Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli and Partners. Rhône has been advised by Credit Suisse, Chiomenti Studio Legale and Paolo Montironi.

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