US private equity group Advent International acquired 100% of Industria Chimica Emiliana (Ice), leader in the production of ursodeoxycholic acid (Udca), an active pharmaceutical ingredient mainly used for the treatment of gastrointestinal and chronic diseases (see Advent’s press release here and PwC’s press release here). The seller is the Bartoli family who founded the company in the late 1940s. Advent was assisted in the transaction by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Kirkland & Elllis, Ropes & Gray, Mattos Filho, AZB. Deutsche Bank and Nomura. The Bartoli family was followed by BonelliErede and Studio Ferrarini. PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory was the exclusive financial advisor of Ice, in addition to having provided financial and tax vendor due diligence services.
Negotiations for the acquisition had been underway for months and only Bain Capital, Advent International, Cinven and Astorg had remained in the race last May (see here a previous post by BeBeez). At the time the group was said to valued about 600 million euros, but then last June Advent entered in exclusive talks with the owner family, after having presented an offer of about 700 million euros (see Reuters). In the past, other private equity companies (Permira, Cvc and Onex) had courted the Bartoli family, which however had always refused to sell the company.
Industria Chimica Emiliana was founded in 1949 by Walter Bartoli and his wife Ida. In 1996, Ice founded the company B.B.B.A. in Brazil, in order to collect bile from the main Brazilian slaughterhouses. The Brazilian plant produces raw cholic acid, exported to Italy for the necessary purification. Cholic acid is the raw material for all other pharmaceutical derivatives. At the end of 1999, Ice acquired Roth Products of Texas (R.P.T.T.), an important company with 50 years of experience in the sector, which collects 50% of the bile available in the United States, sent to Brazil for its processing. The increase in demand for bile has led Ice to create a global supply network. Currently the main supplier countries are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Paraguay, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela. Today Ice is one of the largest producers of derivatives from bovine bile and has about 1,000 employees in Italy (Reggio Emilia and Basaluzzo), South America, India and North America.
Headquartered in Reggio Emilia, Ice closed 2017 with net revenues of 205 million euros, an ebitda of 55.49 million and a net financial debt of 12.25 million (see the Leanus analysis here, once registered for free ). In 2018 the ebitda increased to 60 million euros.
Advent, the Bartoli family and Ice’s management will work to further strengthen the company’s functions and support capabilities. Future investments will focus on the continuous strengthening of the supply of raw materials and on the expansion of Ice’s production capacities. “Already a key player in an interesting market, supported by solid fundamentals, we see significant growth opportunities for this business. Ice’s global positioning as a trusted partner for pharmaceutical companies and suppliers, and the integrated business model along the entire chain of value, constitute a solid base for the future development of the company “, commented Francesco Casiraghi, managing director of Advent International.
Founded in 1984, Advent International is a major global private equity investor. In healthcare, over the past 28 years the fund has invested 7 billion dollars in 42 companies worldwide. Recent investments in the health sector include BioDuro, the world leader in research and development in the field of life sciences based in China, and Zentiva, a leading European pharmaceutical company in the field of generic drugs.
Furthermore, Advent has made over 10 investments in Italy over the past 25 years. Last March, the fund announced that it was no longer interested in launching a tender offer on Milan-listed Cerved Group, as the stock price skyrocketed after rumors about the deal spread out on the market. Advent had put on the plate 1.8-1.85 billion euros for Cerved’s equity, for an enterprise value of around 2.3 billion euros (see here a previous article by BeBeez).