Naturex buys Berkem's Actifs Innovants

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United states dollar

France's Naturex has bought the active ingredients division of
compatriot Berkem - its second strategic acquisition in three weeks
and one that will open up major new sales channels for Berkem's
science-backed ingredients.

The Avignon-based natural ingredients player paid €9.5m for Berkem's Actifs Innovants, which had a turnover of €3.8m in 2007 and a 34 per cent EBITDA margin. The new deal brings to Naturex a line of innovative botanical extracts that are backed up by clinical studies, including Svetol, the green coffee bean-derived ingredient that has been attracting considerable interest in the market in the last year. Scientific data is a major factor in the success of a health-oriented ingredient, and Berkem's division will enhance Naturex's product development and promotion abilities. While Naturex has a large portfolio of natural ingredients, Berkem's expertise is in a few innovative ingredients. Naturex president Jacques Dikansky told FoodNavigator.com that Actifs Innovants will sit as a separate team within the company specialised on developing science-backed ingredients. "The idea is to maintain the know-how and keep the Berkem team." ​ Berkem's weakness until now has been in its sales capacity. Its sales force has consisted of just 1.5 people, while Naturex now has a force of more than 25. This sales organisation will be used to increase penetration of Berkem's ingredients in Europe, the US, Asia and Oceania. The move comes hot on the heels Naturex's acquisition of US-based Chart Corporation on December 20, which brought into the fold a range of flavouring plant extracts in solid and fluid forms for the beverage and flavour industries. Following the Berkem acquisition, the company's turnover is split is 56.5 per cent nutraceuticals, 32.2 per cent flavouring and food processing, 5.5 per cent pharmaceutical, and 2 per cent cosmetics. Dikansky told FoodNavigator.com that the company "absolutely"​ plans to maintain its balance between the different sectors in which it is active - and particularly to keep up its strength in the two leading categories. Naturex established a €35m credit line for acquisitions in November 2006. Dikansky confirmed that this sum has now all been spent - on the Berkem acquisition, Chart, and Hammer Pharma and HP Botanicals, the company's two purchases of 2007. "If we want to do further acquisitions - and we will - we will have to increase capital again,"​ he said. However he added that unless an unmissable opportunity comes its way in 2008, this year is viewed as one for consolidation. "We will start again with new acquisitions in 2009." ​ Naturex said today that organic growth for the company stood at 12.1 per cent at constant US dollar rate in 2007, and the company aims to maintain this double-digit growth this year. Revenue for the full year, including the integration of HP Botanicals on April 1 2007, was €79.5m, up 27.4 per cent on 2006 at constant USD rates. Dikansky said that over the last five years half of the company's growth has stemmed from acquisitions, and half from organic growth. The latter includes research and development - into which Naturex ploughs around three per cent of revenue - as well as sales and marketing activities. Indeed, 2008 is to see a spate of new capabilities for sales force coming on line. A new subsidiary in China due to open its doors in the coming weeks, and in the first half of the year a new sales office in Germany will serve the Benelux countries. This will be followed in the second half of the year by another new sales office in Japan.

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