Canada’s largest agricultural co-op is receiving a $150 million injection of capital from Rabobank and three Quebec-based investment funds — an investment it says will help mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
Rabobank Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Fondaction are investing $150 million in Sollio Cooperative Group — formerly La Co-op fédérée — in the form of preferred shares in the co-op.
“We’re at the tail end of a period of major growth, and this investment will help accelerate our optimization process by facilitating digitization and innovation, maintain our leadership in agri-food and retail in Québec and Canada, and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on our growth plans,” says Sollio CEO Gaétan Desroches, in a statement issued October 5. “Such a substantial investment by these reputable financial institutions attests to their confidence in our strategies and our cooperative business model.”
Based in the Netherlands, the investment fits with Rabobank’s strong presence in food and agribusiness around the world, the company says.
“This commitment is an opportunity to invest in a solid growth model and a partner who shares our focus on cooperative values and sustainable agricultural development,” says Paul Beiboer, CEO, Rabobank North America. “Rabobank is focused on driving innovation and growth in the global food system that will lead to smarter, more efficient and more sustainable agricultural practices and food distribution around the world.”
CDPQ is an institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public pension and insurance plans, while Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Fondaction are investment funds primarily consisting of Québecers’ savings.
Sollio has not said how much each investor is contributing to the $150 million capital investment.
Founded in 1922, and rebranded from La Co-op fédérée in 2018, Sollio operates three main divisions: Olymel (meat processing), Sollio Agriculture (crop input and agribusiness), and BMR Group (includes the co-op’s hardware store business.) Sollio says it represents more than 122,000 members, agricultural producers and consumers in 50 traditional agricultural and consumer cooperatives across Canada, and employs more than 15,000 people with annual sales of $7.3 billion.