US-listed Cold storage firm Americold Realty Trust is expanding into Europe through the acquisition of Agro Merchants Group for $1.74bn (€1.5bn).

The Atlanta-based company said it is buying Agro from an investor group led by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management in a deal expected to close this year or early in the first quarter of 2021. Oaktree said it will retain a “meaningful equity” position.

Founded in 2013, Agro is the fourth largest temperature-controlled warehouse company globally, the third-largest in Europe, and the fourth largest in the US. Agro’s portfolio consists of 46 facilities located in 10 countries.

Americold owns and operates 183 temperature-controlled warehouses across the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Argentina.

The acquisition expands Americold’s footprint into Europe, adds eastern US port-advantaged locations, and strengthens Americold’s existing market position in Australia and South America, Americold said.

Fred Boehler, president and CEO of Americold Realty Trust, said: “The acquisition of Agro represents a unique opportunity to acquire an institutional-quality global portfolio that facilitates our strategic entry into Europe and adds complementary locations in the US, South America and Australia, where Americold is already established.

“This strategic transaction provides exciting long-term growth opportunities through our ability to implement the Americold Operating System and commercial business rules across the Agro platform. In addition, we are excited about the external development and M&A opportunities that this acquisition provides.”

Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of Agro Merchants Group, said: “We are confident that by joining Americold, we will accelerate our growth and by combining our complementary networks, we will be able to provide a more comprehensive range of solutions to customers around the world.”

Zach Serebrenik, managing director at Oaktree Capital Management, said: “We have always admired Americold as leaders in the cold storage sector, and we believe that the combination of Agro’s portfolio with Americold’s operating system and global platform creates an extremely compelling growth story.

“For this reason, we will retain a meaningful equity position and look forward to participating in what we expect to be significant shareholder value creation over the long term.”

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