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SunOpta partners with Oaktree

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SunOpta, a company focused on organic, non-genetically modified and specialty foods, has entered into an agreement with funds managed by alternative asset management firm Oaktree Capital Management.

Oaktree is an investor in the consumer and retail industry, with a track record of driving growth in complex consumer businesses, including AdvancePierre Foods, Campofrío Food Group and Diamond Foods.
In reaching this agreement with Oaktree, SunOpta has concluded the previously announced review of strategic alternatives for the company.
Under the agreement, Oaktree has invested USD85 million in SunOpta in the form of exchangeable preferred shares. Proceeds from the investment have been used to reduce the company’s second lien debt and to increase financial flexibility.
In partnership with representatives of Oaktree and with representatives of Engaged Capital (SunOpta’s second largest shareholder), SunOpta is conducting a thorough review of the company’s operations, management and governance, with the objective of maximising the company’s ability to deliver long-term value to its shareholders. It expects to provide an update on these efforts in conjunction with the company’s third quarter earnings release, along with an updated mid-range plan which will include performance improvements and cost savings to be realised in 2017.
As announced on 27 June 2016, the SunOpta board of directors hired independent financial and legal advisors to support a review of the company's operating plan and evaluate a complete range of strategic and financial actions that SunOpta could undertake to maximise shareholder value. This review was comprehensive in its evaluation of all potential alternatives.
“After concluding a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives, we are excited to have a partner in Oaktree that truly appreciates SunOpta’s unique position in the market and the potential value that can be created for all our shareholders through performance improvement and accelerated growth,” says Alan Murray, chairman of the board of SunOpta. “Given Oaktree’s deep industry knowledge and operational expertise, we believe they are the ideal partner for SunOpta as we seek to strengthen the company’s operations in a way that can reduce operational volatility and realise sustainable growth and value creation. We believe this strategic option provides the highest risk adjusted return from the many options available and evaluated by the Board.”
“With its strong and diverse portfolio of products and having recently undergone a period of significant investment in the business, we believe SunOpta has a substantial opportunity for growth in the rapidly expanding market for healthy and organic foods,” says Matt Wilson (pictured), managing director and co-portfolio manager of Oaktree. “SunOpta is a natural fit for Oaktree given our experience in the consumer and food industries, and we see a significant opportunity to provide strategic, operational and financial support that will accelerate the company’s value-enhancing initiatives and position it for long-term success.”

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