Wild Flavors GmbH owner Hans-Peter Wild and buyout firm KKR & Co. (KKR) are exploring strategic options including a sale of the maker of flavorings for food and beverages that could fetch as much as $2 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The 83-year old producer of the Capri Sun juice drink, based in Zug, Switzerland, is working with Citigroup Inc. (C) to help with a potential deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan is private. The process is in early stages and may lead to a sale, though an initial public offering is also an option, they said.
The company had sales of 838 million euros ($1.1 billion) in 2012, with assets of 1.35 billion euros. With a limited number of potential targets available for flavor and fragrance suppliers, the company could fetch between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, according to two of the people.
Wild Flavors, which competes with companies such Germany’s Symrise AG (SY1) and Switzerland’s Givaudan SA (GIVN), would allow a buyer to tap a consumer trend toward more natural raw materials used in the company’s concentrates, colorings and ingredients for confectionary, ice cream and baked goods. The company in 1951 introduced Libella, the first carbonated juice drink in Germany based only on natural ingredients.
Representatives for Wild, Citigroup and KKR declined to comment.
Wild Flavors, founded in Heidelberg in 1931, has manufacturing sites across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. In 2012, it bought the juice blends business of Cargill Inc., adding more than $200 million to its annual sales and an additional platform to grow in Asia and North Amerca.
Symrise is currently trading at an enterprise value to next year’s estimated sales ratio of 2.37 times, with Givaudan trading at 2.81 times, according to Bloomberg data. Wild Flavor’s margins are lower, and its valuation diluted by the juice business, said the people.
Other ingredient makers include Tate & Lyle Plc, Kerry Group Plc, Chr Hansen Holding A/S as well as International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.
New York-based KKR, run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, bought a stake in 2010, and now owns 35 percent, according to the company’s website. Citi, UBS AG and Commerzbank arranged a 250 million-euro credit facility for Wild Flavors in 2011.
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