Colloides Naturels International (CNI), the Iranex arm that specialises in prebiotic acacia gum and wheat-derived soluble and insoluble fibres, will work most closely with Bio Serae. CNI global sales manager Olivier Houalla said in a November 2007 NutraIngredients.com video interview that "the trend is to the natural product". Its latest move demonstrates how serious it is about moving fully in that direction. He said purchasing Bio Serae would give CNI extra tools to negotiate the European and international functional foods market. The undisclosed acquisition means Iranex will have access to Bio Serae's portfolio of branded and unbranded ingredients that include its weight management cactus-derived offerings NeOpuntia and Cacti-Néa, its antioxidant-boosted grape extracts VinOserae and VinOseed and more. Independence€70m a year earning CNI had no intention of engulfing Bio Serae, rather the 25-staff strong company would retain its independence while utilising CNI's well-developed international distribution network. Michel Degre, the former chairman of Bio Serae, was full of praise for CNI's approach. "We are now a subsidiary of Iranex group," he told NutraIngredients.com. "But Bio Serae will retain a significant degree of independance simply because of the specificity of its activity, in respect, of course, of the whole Iranex Group strategy." Houalla said 110-year-old CNI was attracted to Bio Serae, which earns about €7m per year, because of its strong track record in scientifically-backed functional ingredients that could be used in both the supplements and functional foods sectors. "Their marketing has been very strong for a small to medium sized company and we feel we can build on that as well as in the areas of research and development and distribution," he said. Foods and beverages would be a particular focus for the new operation and Bio Serae's existing ingredient branding would be retained. "We have tended to operate in the supplements area, they in foods, so this makes a lot of sense for us," he said. "We already have some ideas about how we are going to present some of Bio Serae's ingredients in new ways to the food industry and perhaps in some of the markets where they have not operated in the past. We want to exploit all possible synergies in the coming year." Shared values Degre, who established the company in 1984, said it was time "hand on the torch". "Iranex was the best candidate, both in terms of potential synergies and of shared values," he said, noting Bio Serae would be a stronger company as a result of its incorporation into Iranex. "The takeover allows Bio Serae to be part of an important industrial group, which means greater stability, and increased resources (human, industrial as well as financial) - giving a boost to R&D and marketing plans. Many synergies will also come to light through Iranex's extensive international network." Iranex chief executive officer, Stéphane Dondain, said: "This acquisition represents a major step for the development and diversification of the Iranex Group. Having acquired Bio Serae, the Iranex Group becomes an essential presence in the health and well being markets and remains an innovative leader for the natural products and ingredients." CNI's ingredient brands include Fibregum, Eficacia, and Equacia.