Fresh Profile: Arlon Group invests in potatoes, pizzas and all things food

Arlon Group is the investment office of the Fribourg family, reportedly one of the oldest business dynasties in New York.

Simon Fribourg in 1813 founded a small grain-trading company in Arlon, Belgium. More than a century later the family brought Continental Grain Co to the U.S. with an office in New York and a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade in 1921.

By the 1940s, as Nazis advanced in Europe, the Fribourg family emigrated to the U.S.

Continental Grain made headlines when it became the first U.S. firm to export grain to the USSR after its wheat harvest failed in 1964. In later years, Continental expanded its operations in Latin America and China and diversified into poultry, hogs and other agricultural commodities.

The company “is always going to be private” and will remain in family hands, Paul Fribourg, chief executive and sixth-generation Fribourg, told Crain’s New York Business in 2013.

Arlon Group was formed to invest the family’s capital in middle-market food and agriculture companies in 2008. It invests in small to middle-market growth investments and buyouts in the U.S. and middle-market growth companies in Latin America.

The Group is headquartered in New York and has an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The investment office usually takes control positions in its portfolio companies but is open to co-investment opportunities. The investment office has $1.5 billion in AUM.

The Group invests between $25 million and $50 million in U.S. companies with Ebitda greater than $8 million. It invests across the food chain from agriculture and food production, to food processing and retail and food services.

Current investments include Alico Inc, Fort Myers, Florida; Cicis Pizza, Irving, Texas; Coastal Cos, Baltimore; Idaho Pacific Holdings; and Texas-based Wholesome.

The Group invests $10 million to $40 million in cash-flow-positive Latin American companies with a focus on Brazil and the greater Andean region.

All its current Latin American investments are based in Brazil and include BetaniaGrano AlimentosOK Superatacado and Sotran Logistica.

Guillermo Bilbao and Benjamin Fishman are managing directors, David DryermanKevin Thorson and Katie Roberts are vice presidents, and Peter Webel and Daniel Weiner are principals at Arlon Group.

Arlon hosts an annual by-invitation-only summit that brings together partners across the agriculture and food sectors to discuss market outlooks and concerns.

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