Apax Plans India Move, Soglowek Purchase

Apax Partners did not commit itself, or make any promises, to continue to employ Tnuva's senior management, according to sources close to the investment fund, which was chosen last week by the dairy and food cooperative to buy the controlling interest in the firm.

The sources claim no promise was made to Tnuva's CEO, Arik Raichman, or the head of the dairy concern, Liad Cohen, that they would continue in their positions.

Apax did commit itself, on the other hand, to keep the target price for milk paid to dairy farmers members of the cooperative for the next 12 years, in spite of their fears to the contrary, say the sources.

Zehavit Joseph-Cohen, the CEO of Apax in Israel, has serious and far-reaching plans for Tnuva - if the shareholders approve the sale in coming months.

The plans include building a new dairy in India, as well as buying other companies in the dairy-product sector in that rapidly growing country. She intends to turn Tnuva into a major player in the Indian market.

In addition, Cohen wants to buy food companies and a dairy in the U.S. and Europe, as well as purchasing two other Israeli food firms. One seems to be meat processing company Soglowek, if the antitrust commissioner allows it.

All of these purchases would be merged into Tnuva, and turn it into a leading international dairy and meat company, and most of its growth would then come from overseas purchases.

Apax has also not ruled out moving Tnuva into new areas of the food business, but the focus will be on Tnuva's main areas of expertise: dairy and meat.

Apax won the tender to purchase Tnuva with a bid that valued the cooperative at $1.025 billion. While Apax's bid was not the highest, Tnuva's management chose it as the winner due to its strategic plans for the company, and financial capabilities that would allow it to make further purchases with Apax's - and not Tnuva's - capital resources.