Air Liquide says it has entered into exclusive negotiations with private equity firm EQT (Stockholm, Sweden) for the potential sale to EQT of its wholly owned subsidiary Schülke & Mayr (Norderstedt, Germany), a global leader in infection prevention and hygiene. A potential sale price has not been disclosed.
The proposed disposal of Schülke for an unconfirmed reported figure of up to €1 billion ($1.09 billion) was first revealed in November 2019. The potential sale illustrates Air Liquide’s strategy to review its business portfolio regularly and to focus on its core gases and healthcare businesses, it says. “Air Liquide intends to continue to develop its healthcare activities, while providing Schülke & Mayr GmbH with the best opportunity for its long-term development,” it adds.
If the negotiations proceed to completion, the acquisition by EQT’s EQT VIII fund will further support Schülke’s next phase of growth and innovation development, according to Air Liquide.
EQT says it will support Schülke and the company’s current management team and further strengthen its brand and market position. “EQT plans to build on Schülke’s current strategic agenda executed by the management team. The strategy includes investing in growth, strengthening the company’s position in core as well as new markets, and focusing on continued R&D and new product development,” it says. In the short term, EQT “will support Schülke in its immense efforts to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the supply of urgently needed disinfectants,” it adds.
“EQT has followed Schülke closely for over a year and the planned acquisition is a good example of how EQT is investing thematically with the trends in strong, noncyclical businesses in our core sectors, such as healthcare,” says Matthias Wittkowski, partner at EQT Partners and investment advisor to the EQT VIII fund.
“Today is an important milestone for Schülke and we are looking forward to welcoming EQT as a partner. EQT, a purpose-driven and growth-focused European partner with strong values and vast healthcare expertise, will be able to support Schülke’s continued growth ambitions and sustainable development path,” Christian Last, Schülke’s CEO, says.
The proposed transaction is subject to final and definitive agreement between the parties and antitrust and foreign investment clearances.
Schülke, founded in 1889 in Hamburg, operates three production sites in Germany, France, and Brazil. It develops, produces, and distributes antiseptics for wound care, disinfectants, medical and cosmetic skin care products, and preservatives in the healthcare, industrial hygiene, and personal care sectors. The company employs over 1,250 people worldwide and was bought by Air Liquide in 1996. Its annual turnover is approximately €335 million, with forecast EBITDA in 2019 of about €70 million.
Goldman Sachs and Deloitte acted as financial advisors to EQT, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP acting as legal advisor.
By Mark Thomas
Source: Chemical Week
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