Cognis details best ever quarter as buy-out speculation continues

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Goldman sachs

German chemicals and nutrients giant Cognis has turned in its best ever Q1 operating profit as sales across its three core divisions exceeded 2008 pre-financial crisis volumes in 2008 for the first time - fueling ongoing buy-out speculation.

Its chemicals and functional products performed the most dynamically, with EBITDA earnings of €75m (up 82.3%) and €39m (up 129.4%) respectively, while nutrition and health grew by only 29.5% to contribute €19m to the overall €103m profit figure (up 68% on Q1 2009).

The nutrition and health division recorded sales of €88m (up 3.9%), which was buoyed by almost 30 percent growth in the Asia Pacific, across all divisions. This compared with growth of 10 per cent in Europe and two per cent in two per cent in North America, again across all divisions.

Buy-out speculation

Rumours continue to circulate that Cognis – owned by Permira PERM.UL and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners – will be purchased by fellow German company BASF for a price of about €3bn, with the Financial Times ​reporting that BASF insiders had confirmed a bid of around €3bn.

Cognis senior communications manager, Susanne Sengel, told the healthy Q1 figures did “no harm” ​to a potential sale figure.

“It is not a new situation that we are checking our strategic options but these figures definitely do no harm to any prospective sale price,” ​Sengel said.

Of its nutrition and health division, the company said: “Sales in Asia-Pacific were significantly above previous year’s level across most of the product portfolio, as a result of increased sales volumes. Sales in Europe were also higher, driven primarily by strong demand from the food and pharma industries.”

It said its performance was boosted by lower costs among its offerings that include lutein, CLA and omega-3.

Cognis CEO Antonio Trius said: “All our business units and regions delivered very strong results in the first quarter of 2010. With our innovative products aligned with the wellness and sustainability trends we were extremely well positioned to benefit from improved business conditions. Our company has been able to deliver excellent performance due to our improved product mix, significantly higher capacity utilization and lower operating costs.”

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