Ardian could spend up to €1.1bn on agri and food companies – exclusive

The firm is considering investing up to a quarter of mid-cap buyout Fund VI in food and agribusiness, and is already looking at deals.

Food and agri investments could make up as much as a quarter of Ardian’s €4.5 billion mid-market buyout Fund VI, according to managing director Thibault Basquin.

The firm is looking at other agribusiness and food deals after making two acquisitions in the space before the fund had closed, Basquin revealed. Ardian bought a majority stake in European ingredients provider Solina Group in February through Fund VI, and has invested in disinfection provider Hypred.

Basquin said the group was most interested in business to business food and agriculture companies.

“We have been working on the food and agri theme for a while,” Basquin said. “Investment related to food safety, food productivity and traceability are interesting areas for us because at the end of the day there is an increasing need for healthy and more food.”

Basquin expects Hypred to announce several merger and acquisition deals over the coming months. The firm bought the company because it anticipates consolidation in the disinfectant industry in the farm and food and beverages sectors.

“We are interested in Hypred because we believe it is a strong platform for consolidation,” he said, adding that there is room in the industry for a third player, after the two largest companies Ecolab and Diversey.

“We believe there is a clear case to create an Ecolab or Diversey alternative in the market, and build perhaps a €300 to €400 million group after having consolidated it in the coming few years. We have been and are in contact with many companies that we hope will join the project in the coming few months. “

Ardian is expected to concentrate on reinforcing Hypred’s position in central and eastern Europe, and work on expansion projects in South America and South-East Asia.

Fund VI held a final close this month. Its predecessor, raised in 2013, raised €2.8 billion.

Ardian controls nearly $60 billion in assets and has investment strategies including funds of funds, private debt, direct funds, infrastructure, real estate and customised mandate investment solutions. Ardian Mid Cap Buyout Fund VI has allocated €400 million to co-investments.