France's InVivo Plans Retail Tie-Up With Niel-Backed SPAC

French agribusiness group InVivo has entered exclusive negotiations to merge its retail activities with 2MX Organic, an acquisition vehicle backed by French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, the companies said on Thursday.

The planned deal is based on a 675 million euro ($748 million) enterprise value for InVivo Retail, they said.

The business would become a fully-owned subsidiary of 2MX Organic while InVivo would become the majority shareholder of 2MX Organic through the issue of new shares, the companies said in a statement.

The partners, who expect to complete the transaction during the second half of the year, aim to develop InVivo’s existing network of gardening, pet care and grocery stores into a leading brand of sustainable retail in France and in Europe, they said.

The potential tie-up marks another step in Chief Executive Thiery Blandiniere’s overhaul of InVivo, a grouping of French farmer-owned cooperatives.

InVivo last year acquired French rival Soufflet in deal worth 2.2 billion euros, boosting its grain trading capacity and adding a large malt-making business.

2MX Organic, which is also backed by entrepreneur Moez-Alexandre Zouari and banker Matthieu Pigasse, had been hunting for a merger deal since its stock market listing in late 2020.