Femsa Seeks to Acquire Brazilian Refrigerator Maker

Fomento Economico Mexicano SAB (FEMSAUBD), Latin America’s largest beverage company, may seek to acquire a commercial refrigerator maker in Brazil using energy-saving technology to gain sales for its food and beverage coolers.

Femsa, as the Monterrey, Mexico-based company is known, expects refrigerator sales in Latin America and the U.S. to increase 17 percent next year to 285,000 units from 243,000 this year, with the biggest gain in Brazil, said Mariano Montero, director of Femsa’s refrigerator business.

Imbera, Femsa’s refrigerator unit, is exploring the Brazilian market and may purchase a company that makes 20,000 to 30,000 refrigerators a year, Montero said in an interview today. Imbera sells about half its production to Femsa’s beer and soft- drink units. The refrigerators sell for an average of $700, he said.

“I believe it would be a small transaction to be able to grow it with our technology,” Montero said of a potential purchase in Brazil.

Imbera has almost tripled its refrigerator sales since 2000 and has improved technology to help retailers save up to $295 on their energy bill per machine, the company said. Electricity can make up 80 percent of operating costs for a small family-run store, according to Montero.

Outside Mexico

The company is looking to expand outside of Mexico, where growth is slow because of the large number of refrigerators already in the market, Montero said. Imbera will offer products in Europe for the first time and expects to sell 5,000 refrigerators in Spain in 2010. In Brazil next year, sales will jump to as many as 30,000 units from about 16,000 this year.

Imbera, which operates in six countries, began selling refrigerators in the U.S. in 2007 and has seen volume jump from 3,000 in the first year to an estimated 25,000 next year. About 60 percent of its sales are in Mexico.

Femsa rose 6 centavos to 49.71 pesos today in Mexico City trading. The shares have climbed 20 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Black in Monterrey at tblack@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net

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