Blackstone beats Apax

Blackstone is continuing its focus on Germany, acquiring Duesseldorf-based packaging company

Gerresheimer Glas, while planning to exit Celanese, the German chemical business that it acquired in a €3bn public-to-private earlier this year.

The firm is acquiring Gerresheimer in a circa €600m secondary deal from Investcorp and JP Morgan Partners, which bought the business for about €450m from Viag in 2000. The sale follows the cancellation of previous plans for an IPO due to market conditions.

Apax had been in advanced talks with Investcorp and JP Morgan, but market sources said the firm had tried to acquire the business at a lower price in the final stages of the discussions. Gerresheimer has annual sales of €550m, while pre-tax profit for last year was €10m.

“The acquisition of Gerresheimer Glas provides yet more proof of the positive role played by private equity as a driving force behind the necessary structural changes in the German economy,” said Hanns Ostmeier, senior managing director of Blackstone Group Deutschland

Yves Alexandre, managing director of Investcorp, said Gerresheimer had transformed itself substantially and was well positioned for growth in the pharmaceutical sector.

Blackstone has also revealed plans for a partial flotation of Celanese. It has filed to raise €750m from the float, which would represent a very quick realisation for the firm. It acquired Celanese on its own earlier this year, investing about US$600m towards the €3bn deal.

Proceeds will be used to pay Blackstone a special dividend.