Rhone Capital Buys Mayanot Eden

YERUSHALAYIM - Mayanot Eden, which markets Mei Eden mineral water, is selling its Israeli and European operations to U.S. investment firm Rhone Capital for 70 million euros, the Israeli company announced on Sunday.

The deal was expected to close at a relatively meager NIS 170 million or less, which apparently sent the stock down 5.5 percent by mid-afternoon. The sale price reflects an enterprise value of 240 million euros, which includes debt, Globes reported.

Mayanot Eden, which bottles mineral water from the Golan Heights, has turned more and more toward coffee. Rhone Capital is said to be interested in expanding that part of the business as well.

The New York-based Rhone Capital is a private equity firm founded in 1995 by billionaire financiers Robert Agostinelli and Steven Langman.

The Israeli company is also looking to expand operations in Eastern Europe, where demand for mineral water is growing.

“We are pleased to cooperate with Rhone Capital in carrying out the joint vision and believe that Rhone’s experience in creating value for the operations it buys will be a significant contribution to the company’s development,” Zilberman said.

In an unrelated development, Siemens AG announced the firing of 150 of the 200 employees of its solar energy plant (formerly Solel Solar Systems) in Beit Shemesh, after no buyer could be found for it. Siemens acquired the company for $418 million in 2009 from founder Avi Brenmuller and other investors.

Since the acquisition, Siemens has lost hundreds of millions of euros on the investment, plus financing of the plant over the past four years at an additional cost of hundreds of millions.

At its peak, the branch, known as Siemens Concentrated Solar Power, employed some 400 people. The remaining 50 employees are staying on to provide technical support services for a Spanish project that was hooked up to the grid a year ago, and three other Spanish projects that are nearing completion.

In late 2012, Siemens disclosed that it was pulling out of the solar energy business. In addition to thermosolar energy (which included production by the Beit Shemesh plant), this business included the planning and construction of photovoltaic solar fields. The company’s decision was due to the sector’s disappointing results and market weakness.