Ardian Is Said to Explore Sale of Austrian Chemicals Asset ESIM

(Bloomberg) -- Ardian SAS is exploring a sale of Austrian chemical maker ESIM, which could be worth about 400 million euros ($490 million), according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Preliminary information on the maker of ingredients for crop-protection chemicals has been sent to potential bidders to help generate interest, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan is private. Paris-based buyout firm Ardian is working with an adviser on the potential disposal, they said.

A spokesman for Ardian declined to comment.

ESIM, formerly a unit of Royal DSM NV, has a site in Linz where it manufactures so-called fine chemicals, ingredients and additives used widely in agrochemicals to animal feed. Acquired in 2015, ESIM is one of a string of chemical investments by Ardian’s 2.5 billion-euro mid-cap fund including Germany’s CABB and Italmatch of Italy, which remains in the portfolio.

Fine-chemical makers have suffered since farmers reduced spending on crop protection following a decline in prices. Monsanto Co. Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann said on Jan. 4 that the corn-growing season in the U.S. has had a slow start to the year, while farmers have been delaying decisions on applications of fertilizers.

ESIM generates about 40 million euros in full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, said the people.

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