Italmatch Plans Growth Under Owner Ardian Before Potential Sale

  • Italian chemical maker considering acquisition and new factory
  • Revenue has soared during five ownership changes in 20 years

Italmatch Chemicals SpA plans to expand further under private equity holder Ardian SAS before undergoing what would be the company’s sixth ownership change in little more than 20 years.

The Genoa, Italy-based company, whose previous parents have included the buyout firm of the Bonomi and Benetton families, is pushing into personal-care ingredients, according to Chief Executive Officer Sergio Iorio. Italmatch’s plans also include a possible acquisition and a new factory in the Asia Pacific region, he said in an interview.

Sergio Iorio

Photographer: Rossella Murgia/Italmatch

“We’re not at the stage where Ardian has finished its job and value creation,” said Iorio, who owns a 12 percent stake. “There are another couple of things in the pipeline.”

Speculation that Ardian is looking to sell Italmatch has increased since a decision by Israel Chemicals Ltd. last month to offload a rival business to SK Capital Partners LP for $1 billion. Italmatch was on the radar of a range of potential buyers prior to the takeover by Ardian’s 2.5 billion-euro ($3 billion) mid-cap fund in 2013.

Italmatch, which counts BASF SE and Exxon Mobil Corp. among its customers, has already expanded in additives for water, oil and gas, and plastics under Ardian. Annual revenue has increased 20-fold to almost 400 million euros from 20 million euros in 1997, and the company has 12 manufacturing sites across Europe, North America and Asia.

“As Italmatch has grown in size, we’ve had a change in the size of the financial sponsor as the cash needs and the ambition increases,” Iorio said. “In 20 years, I can tell you we went through maybe five changes in financial sponsor.”

Italmatch became an independent company in 1997 after a management buyout. Iorio said that, at the time, he was on the point of leaving for a job at a bigger company before a private equity firm persuaded him to stay and lead Italmatch through what became one of Italy’s first leveraged buyouts.

Iorio said he’s interested in staying on for the next stage in Italmatch’s development, especially if the company is able to further expand in the U.S. There may be an opportunity for the chemical maker to list shares there, he added.

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