Imerys snaps up S&B for €558m

Published: Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Laura Syrett

World leading French industrial minerals group Imerys SA has bought Greece-based bentonite producer, S&B, for a maximum purchase price of €558m ($697.5m*).

Imerys said the deal represented a "strategic combination for the integration of the main activities of S&B," which will allow it to "accelerate its development by enlarging its specialities offer".

Euronext-listed Imerys earlier this year lost out on a bidding war to acquire US bentonite producer, AMCOL, to rival Minerals Technologies Inc., but would not be drawn on whether it viewed the S&B purchase as an alternative route to expand into the bentonite market.

"S&B has a portfolio that will strengthen Imerys and will accelerate innovation initiatives in several markets," an Imerys spokesperson told IM.

They added that the Imerys-S&B combination "will produce numerous synergies".

"[These] will come from the complementarity of activities: enlargement of the global offering - four divisions with minerals, solutions and specialities new to Imerys - and leveraging geographies," the spokesperson said.

Imerys’ CEO, Gilles Michel, stressed that the deal represented another step forward in the company’s strategy to develop in new speciality mineral markets.

"By welcoming S&B’s teams, sharing with us similar culture and values, we will strengthen together our global positions in the mineral-based speciality solutions for industry," he said.

Ulysses Kyriacopoulos, chairman of S&B, added that "by combining our operations with the world leader in industrial minerals, S&B takes a decisive step in its global growth strategy".

S&B, which is jointly held by the Kyriacopoulos family (61%) and the New York-based private equity firm, Rhone Capital (39%), has a presence in 22 countries in Europe, North America and Asia, in what Imerys described to IM as "very complementary positioning" to the Paris-headquartered miner’s own operations.

As well as bentonite for foundry applications, sealing solutions and drilling mud additives, S&B also produces wollastonite for functional additives in polymers and paints, perlite for construction and horticultural markets and continuous casting fluxes for the steel industry.

The €558m purchase price Imerys has agreed to pay for S&B is based on a €525m equity value for 100% of the shares in the Greek company, plus up to €33m based on performance. Of this, €311m will be paid in cash and the balance of €214m will be paid in shares. S&B’s debt is assumed at €235m, calculated as of 30 June 2014.

The deal remains subject to regulatory approval, but Imerys’ spokesperson confirmed to IM that the company expects the deal be concluded during the first quarter of 2015.

On completion of the transaction, Ulysses Kyriacopoulos will join Imerys board of directors.