Apax's proposed Azelis takeover backed by unions

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Azelis's new UK lab opened last November
Azelis's new UK lab opened last November

Related tags Private equity firm Initial public offering Active ingredient Venture capital

Apax Partners says workers' unions have backed its plan to buy a controlling stake in chemical distributor Azelis from fellow private equity firm 3i.

Apax approached Azelis’s holding company – Atlas Holdings – this month and entered into talks to buy 3i’s stake in the Belgian firm, which sells chemicals to a variety of industries including active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and excipients to the drug sector.

Earlier today the private equity firm announced that: “The relevant workers’ councils of the Company have issued a favourable opinion on the transaction, which remains subject to regulatory clearances, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015​.”

Apax declined to comment further when contacted by in-Pharmatechnologist.com.

Apax’s planned investment comes less than a year after Azelis rival IMCD completed an initial public offering​ (IPO) on the Euronext exchange in Amsterdam and as Univar – another chemical distributor – prepares to list in the US​.

The deal – which is subject to antitrust clearance – will see Apax acquire 3i’s majority stake in the firm which it bought in 2007 for €315m.

3i has been looking to offload Azelis for a few years. In 2011 it hired Merrill Lynch to help it find a buyer​. This plan was abandoned a year or so​ later and 3i invested €30m to further expand Azelis.

Pharma reach

Azelis employs more than 1,100 staff at sites worldwide, 70% of whom are involved in “customer facing” sales roles.

An Azelis spokeswoman told us the majority of the firm’s facilities are involved in its pharmaceutical business, citing its operations in the UK, Spain, Germany, Italy and Poland as examples.

Azelis’s pharmaceutical business has seen a number of expansions in recent months most recently in November when it opened a laboratory in Hertford, UK.

According to its website Azelis generated €944m ($1.1bn) in sales and €38m in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2013.

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