Diana sale to AXA Private Equity confirmed

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

AXA Private Equity has confirmed its intention to acquire Diana
Ingredients from Cognetas for €710m - a move that indicates strong
potential for further growth by the French company.

The likelihood of a sale was flagged last week, when it emerged that AXA Private Equity had entered a period of exclusive negotiation with former owner of the Vannes-based firm Cognetas (formerly Electra Partners Europe). Its new partner is expected to take the company into a new phase of growth; confidence in its potential is underscored by the funds advised by Cognetas deciding to reinvest "a significant amount" in the new transaction alongside Axa Private Equity. Bruno Ladrière, Director at AXA Private Equity, said: "Our ambition is that Diana Ingredients become a strong development platform, including through external growth, to reinforce its market positions in several product segments and regions, among which Asia, the USA and Eastern Europe."​ As for Diana Ingredients, CEO Olivier Suquet expressed conviction that AXA Private Equity is the right partner to support such international development, which it is expected will be achieved through internal growth and strategic acquisitions. "The firm's active support in the development of its portfolio companies, the well-known AXA name and the access to its worldwide network will be clear advantages to facilitate our group's expansion over the coming years,"​ he said. The sale is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to close in Q3. In the three years since Cognetas acquired Diana Ingredients in a €270m leveraged buy-out, the ingredients firm has seen revenues soar from €146m in 2003 to €253m last year. Diana Ingredients has three divisions: Diana Naturals (natural ingredients), Cap Diana (culinary ingredients) and SPF (pet food ingredients). Of these, Diana Naturals and SPF have shown the most organic growth and international expansion, and between them accounted for more than 80 per cent of last year's revenue. The company is said to be the world number one supplier of flavours to the pet food industry. Amongst the product offerings for the food industry from Diana Naturals are nutraceuticals, dehydrated and natural fruit and veg extracts, natural colourings, and wine extracts. Diana Ingredients employs some 1,100 people in the countries in which it is active, including France, Spain, the UK, USA, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Suquet told FoodNavigator.com last week that the sale will not change day-to-day running of the company at all.

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