This week Financial Times Deutschland reported that the private-equity-owned chemical company, which was purchased by Goldman Sachs and Permira from Henkel KGaA in 2001 for €2.6 bn was in advanced discussions with three interested parties: equity investors Blackstone Group, Bain & Co, and Apollo Investment Group with an unnamed partner.
A spokesperson for Cognis told NutraIngredients.com that the background to the speculation is a statement issued by the company in April, in which it said that it had mandated investment banks Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan to review its strategic options "in light of an attractive market environment". The options were said to include an IPO, or sale to another private equity company or another chemical company.
"This process is rolling, and we do not comment on rumours or speculation," she said, adding that it is normal practice for private equity owned firms to check their strategic process every four to six years.
She said she had "no idea" of the source of the Financial Times story, having declined to comment on inquiries from the newspaper. It is foreseen that the process will be competed by the end of this year at the latest, and a statement made to employees and media at that time.
Moreover Cognis has, from the outset, sought to be up-front about its plan for investment over a four to six year period, after which its exit will be checked, so that any sudden moves do not some as a surprise to its top managers and employees.
Over the past few years health and nutrition - and particularly branded ingredients - have risen to be an increasingly important part of Cognis' overall business. In full year 2005 it was one of the best performing of the five strategic business units, with sales increasing 5.6 percent from €287 in 2004 to €303. The unit also accounted for 63.4 per cent of operating profit (EBIT).