PAI serves up Chr acquisition

Fresh from closing its latest €2.7bn fund, PAI Partners will acquire Chr Hansen, a Danish food ingredients business, for US$1.4bn. PAI, an experienced investor in the foods business, beat a handful of other private equity firms in a contested auction. Blackstone, CVC and Apax were also in the running to acquire Chr Hansen.

Vendor Hansen Holding achieved over 12x Ebitda with the sale, and will now concentrate on its remaining pharmaceuticals business. The company reported net sales of DKr3.42bn in 2004. After the buyout, PAI aims to grow the business through expanded geographic market coverage, investment in capacity and R&D and potential add-on acquisitions.

Lars Frederiksen, currently executive vice-president for business operations, will become CEO. The existing management team of CFO Leif Norgaard, executive vice-president Hans Thorkilgaard and executive vice-president Peter Olesen will remain at the company.

PAI’s other main investments in the food business include United Biscuits and Yoplait. United Biscuits, the second-largest biscuit company in Europe, was taken private in a €2.3bn transaction, while PAI bought 50% of Yoplait, the second largest global brand in fresh dairy products, in June 2002.

On the exit front, PAI has just sold its investment in Panzani, a pasta and pasta sauce company, to Ebro. The Spanish food group bought the stake in a transaction that valued the business at €650m. PAI acquired Panzani in December 1997 as part of Danone’s dry grocery business

PAI manages and advises dedicated buyout funds, as well as the former BNP Paribas portfolio of direct investments, with an aggregate equity value of more than €7bn.