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Rhone Capital to buy a stake in Illycaffé

The Italian coffee brand said the private equity firm will be able to help its international expansion.
Photo courtesy of Illycaffé

Illycaffé, the Italian coffee brand, on Tuesday said it has agreed to sell a minority stake in the business to the private equity firm Rhone Capital.

The company, based in Trieste, Italy, said the investment from Rhone will help the company grow into international markets—particularly in the U.S.

Illy was founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy and since has built an international coffee brand. The company has more than 160 shops in major cities in 34 countries, including airports and shopping malls, as well as museums.

Illy said that Rhone was “chosen for its ability to contribute to Illy’s international footprint expansion.” The company also said that the investment from Rhone will complement the “generational transition” that has already started with the appointment of the fourth generation of the Illy family to the company’s board of directors.

Illycaffé Chairman Andrea Illy called Rhone Capital “a travel companion for this next phase of growth” and cited the firm’s “deep, global experience in strategically partnering with family-owned companies.”

“I strongly believe that Rhone will be an ideal partner as we continue to realize our dream of offering the greatest coffee in the world,” Illy said in a statement.

Robert Agostinelli, co-founder of Rhone, called Illycaffé “a standard bearer of how multi-generational family ownership can shepherd and enhance a sterling brand identity across the globe.” He also cited “the quality of Illy’s underlying business.”

The deal is one of a string of deals in the coffee sector in recent years, including the proposed acquisition of Dunkin’ Brands by Inspire Brands but also featuring other deals, such as the purchase of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf by Jollibee Foods and Coca Cola’s 2019 deal for Costa Coffee.

The Illy transaction is expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2021. Goldman Sachs International, Studio Sabelli Benazzo and Studio Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli and Partners advised Illycaffe. Credit Suisse, Chiomenti Studio Legale and Paolo Montironi advised Rhone Capital.

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