GERMANY, Rheda-Wiedenbrück. According to an agency report, the Tönnies family of owners is considering a billion-euro sale of its meat group. Talks with potential bidders could begin in the coming weeks. Among others, competitors Tyson Foods, JBS SA and China's WH Group are seen as interested parties.
The news agency Bloomberg reports the owners of the Tönnies meat group are considering a sale of their company worth billions. This could be valued at around € 4 bn., the news agency reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. Talks with potential bidders could begin in the coming weeks. Among others, competitors Tyson Foods, JBS SA and the Chinese WH Group are considered as interested parties. However, there is no final decision yet, they said. The group's main owners are Clemens and Robert Tönnies, who planned to part with their shares in the event of a sale, it said. "As a matter of principle, we do not comment on market rumors," a Tönnies spokesman said according to reports by Reuters.
"The market is on the move," said an industry insider. It's no secret that US-based Tyson wants to expand in Europe, he added. Tönnies, by far Germany's largest slaughterhouse, had more than 16,000 employees and reported 2019 sales of € 7.3 bn., according to its own figures. In its core business, the company, which was founded in 1971 and has grown through numerous acquisitions, deals with the slaughtering, cutting and processing of pigs and cattle. The group, headquartered in Rheda-Wiedenbrück in North Rhine-Westphalia, made the headlines last year following a Corona outbreak at its main plant. More than 1,500 employees had been infected with the virus. Politicians had repeatedly criticized working conditions at Tönnies.
Clemens Tönnies, managing partner of the Group. had subsequently resigned from his post as chairman of the supervisory board of Bundesliga soccer club Schalke 04 at the end of June 2020. "My main task at the moment is to concentrate fully on my company, to lead it successfully through the most severe crisis in its history," Tönnies said in a letter to the club at the time, explaining the move.
There had been repeated disputes between major shareholder Robert Tönnies and his uncle Clemens Tönnies in the past. Among other things, a Group spokesman appealed to Robert to "dedicate himself to the company's cause in the tradition of the Tönnies family." Clemens Tönnies controls around 45% of the shares, while Robert Tönnies holds around 50%. Maximilian Tönnies, son of Clemens Tönnies, who is also a shareholder, also works in the Group. Among other things, he was entrusted with the company's expansion in the vegetarian food market. Tönnies is represented there with the "Vevia" and "Gutfried veggie" brands, among others.