OREANDA-NEWS. May 19, 2008. The EBRD is acquiring a 28,3 percent-stake in the Armenian meat producer NatFood CJSC for \\$4 million. The funds will be used for expanding business by building new production facilities with state-of-the-art equipment in compliance with international quality standards, reported the press-centre of EBRD.

The Armenian market for processed meat is growing rapidly and the company’s strategy is to become a leading player. The emergence of a middle class who can afford and ask for products of better and safer quality is seen as a special opportunity. The company’s products, sold under the “Biella” brand name, already enjoy high reputation on the local market.

NatFood was established as a spin-off of the meat processing business of Valletta LLC. Valletta was founded in 1999 as a trading group by the local entrepreneur Henrik Zakharyants, who was previously the sole owner. It has since grown into a wide-ranging business group, including wholesale, retail and food processing.

EBRD First Vice President Varel Freeman said the Bank’s acquisition of an equity stake showed “our confidence in our new partner. We have been very impressed by the strong performance of the company over the past years and we will now support its further development and strengthening.”

Armen Khudinyan, CEO of NatFood, added: “Having the EBRD on board – in the truest sense of the word - is a massive boost for our enterprise. It does not only strengthen us financially but we will also benefit from the Bank’s expertise and know-how in our country and region.”

To-date, the EBRD has invested more than ?170 million in 50 projects in all sectors of the Armenian economy. The strong growth in recent years has also resulted in higher demand for EBRD finance.