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Alleged Fraud in the Sale of Logística Carosan: A Shadow over Sherpa Private Equity

The acquisition of Logística Carosan, located in Talavera de la Reina, Spain, by Sherpa Private Equity, initially appeared to be a strategic expansion into the transportation and logistics sector. However, this transaction is now under scrutiny due to allegations of fraud and embezzlement. Additionally, the lawsuit has revealed alleged undue pressures and financial manipulations that not only affect those directly involved but also raise serious questions about the ethics and responsibility of regulated investment funds.

In February 2014, Sherpa Private Equity, FCR, acquired a 70% stake in Logística Carosan through its investment vehicle Nansen Global Investment SL. The deal, signed by Alfredo Bru and Jorge Pérez Miret from Sherpa, with the collaboration of associate José María de Retana, and representatives from Carosan, Benjamín Carrizo and Jesús Sánchez Moncayo, initially seemed to be a demonstration of Sherpa's strategic expansion into the transportation and logistics sector.

Logística Carosan, an integrated logistics operator that includes subsidiaries such as Talaexpress, Fuensalidana de Transportes, and Europa Logistrucks, is responsible for the storage and transportation of goods by road across the Iberian Peninsula. With a business volume close to 40 million euros in 2022, the business value has been set at approximately 40 million euros, excluding the logistics warehouses. The warehouses and lands were valued at around 30 million euros, although the latter have been arranged through a sale and leaseback contract. The company boasts an extensive network of clients, including renowned firms such as Grupo Importaco, Grupo IFA, Indas, CTT, Seur, Schweppes, and Grupo Cidacos. Sherpa's acquisition of Carosan was viewed as a significant strategic move.

However, a dark shadow has recently been cast over this transaction. Sherpa and Carosan has been sued by by Pedro Horrach's law firm for fraud and embezzlement, according to recent reports. It is alleged that during the sale of Logística Carosan, million-euro fees were generated in favor of the exclusive advisor, Grupo Sochrim, which invested more than two and a half years in the operation. These fees were allegedly illicitly seized by the defendants through a premeditated and coordinated plan.

Additionally, according to one of Carosan's major shareholders, a minority shareholder of the company was pressured by Sherpa to sell their stake at a price lower than its fair value, with threats such as "either you sign or we will erase you from the map with a capital increase." These testimonies suggest that there could be more victims of this alleged fraud, further complicating the situation.

The seriousness of these accusations cannot be underestimated. Sherpa Private Equity, a fund regulated by the Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) that proclaims a responsible investment policy, faces a scandal that could tarnish its reputation and question its integrity in the financial market.

The Carosan case is particularly relevant in the current context of the road transportation sector in Spain, which has seen multiple consolidation operations, such as Logista's purchase of El Mosca and Apollo's acquisition of Primafrío. Sherpa's entry into this market seemed to align with a trend of growth and expansion, but the recent accusations cast doubt on its methods and practices.

The situation demands a thorough investigation to clarify the facts and determine if crimes of fraud and embezzlement were indeed committed. If confirmed, it would be a severe blow to confidence in private equity funds and their practices in the Spanish market.

Sherpa, which had announced its intention to support the growth of Logística Carosan in its post-acquisition statement, now faces a crisis that could challenge its ability to manage and maximize the value of its investments ethically and legally. The business community and regulators will be closely monitoring the development of this case, which could set an important precedent for transparency and accountability in the private investment sector.

Furthermore, this case resonates in a market where other major players are making similar strategic moves. For instance, Everwood Capital, through its transportation and logistics fund, recently acquired a majority stake in Maresa Logística. These operations underscore the growing importance of the logistics sector in Spain and Europe and the need for transparent and ethical business practices.