Until now, Wild was a family-owned company ever since its foundation in 1931. Dr Hans-Peter Wild, who is also the sole owner of US flavours and ingredient company Wild Flavors, first revealed plans to make the German company public in 2008.
He has now sold some shares in the German flavours and ingredients business, including subsidiaries in 11 European counties, to KKR as a move towards that eventual goal. KKR brings capital that can enable Wild to continue growing its business, as it has access to financial sources that were previously unavailable.
The deal, which concluded on 1 January, excludes the dairy ingredients business, and Capri-Sun beverage brand and the Indag processing technology businesses.
“In extending its reach, Wild will target foreign markets and relying on KKR to support Wild’s financial positions and create new growth potential through its global network and acquisition,” said Dr Wild in a statement.
The formation of a global flavour business is also seen as another step towards eventual public listing. This plan, to be carried out “in several independent steps”, involves uniting the German Wild business and Wild Flavors as one company, in which Dr Wild will be the major shareholder, later this year.
KKR brings know-how to the German firm on making an initial public offering, although no firm indication of the timescale has been given. Although 2010 was originally mooted, the financial crisis means it will certainly not happen this year.
Neither the number of shares sold to KKR nor their value have been disclosed.
No changes to the top management at the German flavours and ingredients business are being made as a result of the share sale to KKR.
KKR, founded in 1976, has US$54.8 billion in assets under management.