- Innophos, a New Jersey-based maker of specialty ingredients for baked goods, sports drinks and cheeses, has entered into a deal to sell the company to private equity firm One Rock Capital Partners for $932 million, or $32 a share.
- The agreement allows for a 30-day “go-shop” period where Innophos will be able to solicit alternative bids from other companies.
- “We remain confident that our transformational strategy is the right path forward for Innophos; however, executing on this strategy in an increasingly volatile macroeconomic and complex financial environment as a small-cap public company remains challenging and could take longer than initially expected," Kim Ann Mink, president and CEO of Innophos, said in a statement.
In recent years, the ingredient and food additive space has been a hotbed of M&A activity.
This year, DuPont is rumored to be considering a sale of its nutrition and biosciences business that includes food additives and ingredients. Last year, International Flavors & Fragrances acquired Frutarom Industries for $7.1 billion; Geneva-based Givaudan agreed to buy a stake in French plant-based ingredient maker Naturex; and Illinois-based Ingredion has also been buying up companies like Sun Flour Industry.
It's no wonder there is so much interest in the space. According to Allied Market Research, the global flavors market for food and beverages was worth $12.4 billion in 2016. It is projected to hit $18.1 billion by 2023.
Part of the reason the industry is gaining so much interest is due to the ever-increasing demand from consumers and manufacturers for new flavors, textures and better-for-you options. The need for constant innovation has prompted ingredient companies such as Innophos to turn to M&A to bulk up their operations.
In 2017, Innophos paid $125 million to buy Novel Ingredients, a supplier of botanicals, proteins, amino acids and other healthy ingredients. That same year, Innophos also acquired NutraGenesis, which markets nutraceutical ingredients, for $28 million.
One Rock’s portfolio currently focuses on energy and chemical manufacturing so acquiring an ingredients company such as Innophos may be less about the business itself and more about an investment. By going private, Innophos likely will have access to deeper financial resources and can escape from the demands of shareholders and quarterly earnings results. This could allow Innophos to hire more team members and take the time to develop quality additions to its portfolio.
Despite acquisitions and a growing market, Innophos’ second-quarter earnings report released on Aug. 6, showed a 10% sales decline to $185 million compared to the same period a year ago. Preliminary third-quarter results announced Monday put revenue at $190 million for the quarter, a 4% decrease from the $197 million during the same time last year.
By selling, Innophos may be simply looking for ways to increase returns in times of slow sales growth and volatile commodity prices, which the company has cited in its earnings reports as reasons for a decrease in sales. Innophos also noted the additional requirements of being a small-cap company in the public markets. By going private, the money it saves could go toward operating the business, developing new products or acquiring other companies.
If a sale does conclude, One Rock Capital would enter into a lucrative industry that appears to only be growing. Researchers and ingredient companies are working on finding ways to replace artificial flavors and colors as well as ingredients that are subject to wild price swings or viewed as more taxing to the environment. With other ingredients companies also bulking up, the smaller Innophos may not have had as many tools at its disposal to compete as some of the bigger players, making a deal to go private a smart move.