Ardian Said to Seek Bids for $1.6 Billion Diana Sale

Ardian Sarl, formerly known as Axa Private Equity, will ask potential bidders for its Diana food-supplement business to submit first-round offers next month, with the asset valued at about 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), according to people with knowledge of the plan.

Memos for the sale of the French supplier of antioxidants and pet-food additives will be sent next week, with buyout firm PAI Partners SAS and Naturex (NRX) of France among interested parties, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Lazard Ltd. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are advising the seller.

Diana, which has attracted approaches prior to the sale process, will appeal to both private-equity and chemical companies that have ventured into the higher-margin ingredients business, said one of the people.

Some private-equity firms are considering partnerships with competitors of Diana, including Naturex of France which would be interested in parts of the business, to separate the cash-generating pet-food operation from food additives, according to three of the people.

Representatives for Ardian, PAI and Naturex declined to comment.

Diana may fetch 10 to 11 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, two of the people said.

Chemical companies including BASF SE, DuPont Co., Ashland Inc. (ASH) and Royal DSM NV have all expanded into food and nutritional additives to move away from more commoditized materials. That’s intensified competition with ingredients suppliers, making it more difficult for smaller firms to win large orders.

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