March 23, 2020 / 11:04 AM / 5 days ago

UniCredit buys 32.5% of Italy's Esselunga real estate unit: sources

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest lender UniCredit (CRDI.MI) has invested 435 million euros ($469 million) to buy a 32.5% stake in the company that owns the real estate assets of supermarket chain Esselunga, two sources close to the matter said on Monday.

The deal, which comes at a time when mergers and acquisitions have been put on hold during the coronavirus emergency that has railed markets and dried up funding, values the supermarket chain at 6.1 billion euros.

The majority owners of Esselunga’s parent company will use proceeds from the UniCredit deal and a bank loan worth more than 1.3 billion euros to fund the acquisition of the shares they do not already own.

The second wife of Esselunga’s late founder Bernardo Caprotti and their daughter Marina own 70% of Esselunga’s parent company Supermarkets Italiani.

Caprotti’s two children from his first marriage, Giuseppe and Violetta, own the remaining 30%.

Marina Caprotti and her mother have exercised pre-emption rights over the 30% stake whose value has been set at 1.8 billion euros after an arbitration process.

Esselunga said on Saturday that following the minority buyout it would merge with its parent company Supermarkets Italiani, taking on its debt. ($1 = 0.9270 euros)

Reporting by Elisa Anzolin, editing by Giulia Segreti and Ed Osmond

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