How It Started

Theodore (Ted) Margellos began his career at the age of 21 as a wheat trader with Continental Grain in Paris. Seven years later, after having traded wheat and oilseeds in the various offices of Continental Grain in Rome, Saint-Louis, New York and Geneva, he decided to start his own company, Hellenic Grain Co., which became the largest single Greek exporter of all agricultural and industrial products in less than four years.

One of the most successful investments of the multilateral development bank

Ted, who had developed a thorough knowledge of grain trading with the former Soviet Union, foresaw as early as 1988, that the Soviet republics were aiming at economic independence from Moscow. By the end of 1989, he had established an office in Kiev (Ukraine was the largest grain producer in the Soviet Union), anticipating that it would, once again, become a grain exporter (at that time and since 1973, the Soviet Union had been a net grain importer). ILTA Trade Finance and ILTA Holding were created to incorporate all investments and businesses.

In 1994, Ted re-focused his company from pure commodity trading to a fully integrated agribusiness operation under the name “Oleina”. The financing was provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”), making it one of the most successful investments of the multilateral development bank. Oleina, a US$ 5 million investment, was sold at a valuation of US$ 220 million. The sale of Oleina was finalized in 2005.

The Later Years

Major Achievements

OLEINA

The success story of “Oleina” is based on the exemplary implementation of a carefully crafted plan to exploit a unique opportunity. By these means “Oleina” turned a US$ 5 million investment in 1995 into exit proceeds of US$ 220 million ten years later.

ILTA established an office in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1989 on the basis of a belief in both the impending implosion of the Soviet Union and the increase in grain production that would make Ukraine a major world exporter again. Once the trading operation in Ukraine was established, it was Ted’s strategy to develop it into an integrated agribusiness company.

DOEP, a sunflower crushing plant in Dnipropetrovsk, was identified as the best crushing plant in the former Soviet Union. In 1995, Ted acquired 67% of the plant, competing against major multinational companies . A refining and bottling plant was added with financing from the EBRD, and the “Oleina” brand was created. A thorough marketing plan was observed in order to develop its market penetration in the whole of the former Soviet Union from Odessa to St-Petersburg and from Moscow to Vladivostok. By 2000, Oleina was a market leader in the vegetable oil market in Russia and Ukraine and only  second to the world’s most famous soft drink  in terms of brand awareness.

By 2000, Oleina was a market leader in the vegetable oil market in Russia and Ukraine…

The achievement of the “Oleina” project was remarkable as it was implemented in a very hostile environment, in the absence of existing financing or distribution channels, and against the backdrop of 70 years of communist mentality. The company was successfully sold to Eridania Beghin-Say, a major multinational agribusiness group, which later sold its entire oilseeds division to Bunge, one of the few globally integrated agribusiness trading companies.

ILTA GRAIN INC

Ilta Grain Inc was established in British Columbia, Canada, in the spring of 2011. 

The company specializes in buying pulses from farmers, processing them through four processing plants in the Saskatchewan region, and exporting them around the world.

ILTA Grain Inc developed organically: at first an experienced team, who also became shareholders; the acquisition of hard assets (processing plants); and the necessary investments in order to achieve first class quality standards.

In February 2014, the company was sold to a US private equity fund, realizing a return of over three times on the initial investment.