| FRANKFURT, March 7
FRANKFURT, March 7 German drink and food
flavours maker Wild is putting itself up for sale in a deal that
could value the company at 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion),
three people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Citigroup Inc, which is organising the transaction,
will send out information packages to a small group of
pre-selected bidders later this month, the people said, adding
first bids are expected to be due by the end of April.
Simultaneously, a potential stock market listing is being
prepared, the sources said.
Hans-Peter Wild, son of founder Rudolf Wild, owns 65 percent
of Wild Flavors, while buyout group KKR owns 35 percent.
Wild is also the owner of a separate company which makes the
Potential buyers are likely to value the company at between
1.4 billion euros and 1.7 billion, or 10 to 12 times Wild
Flavor's expected 2014 core earnings (EBITDA) of 140 million
euros, the sources said.
That would be in line with the valuation of competitors
which trade at about 11 times expected operating earnings,
according to Thomson Reuters data.
Peers such as Givaudan, Symrise, IFF
, Sensient Flavors, Ingredion and
Ajinomoto are likely to show interest in Wild, although
some may face antitrust issues as Wild is the world's
sixth-biggest flavour provider.
Separately, private equity groups such as Advent, EQT,
Cinven, BC Partners, CD&R and Permira
are also likely to be invited to the auction, the
"One possible outcome, which should not be ruled out, is
that the auction is mainly a price-finding exercise and may
result in KKR buying out Wild or vice versa," one banker working
on the transaction said.
Bankers have also started preparing debt packages of about 1
billion euros, or 7.5 times Wild's operating earnings, another
Any buyer of Wild will get access to a large variety of
flavours, extracts, seasonings and colours derived from natural
sources, which are crucial components of processed foods and
beverages. Customers have of late been showing increasing
appetite for foods comprising only natural components.
Wild, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, was founded in 1931
in Heidelberg, Germany, as a producer of ingredients for
non-alcoholic beverages. About 20 years later it started selling
Libella, Germany's first carbonated juice drink based on natural
Wild Flavors posted 2013 sales of almost 900 million euros.
Since KKR's investment in Wild, the flavour maker has bought
several companies, including Cargill's juice blends business,
mint oil maker A.M. Todd and natural extracts maker Alfrebro.
KKR, Givaudan, Symrise, Ajinomoto, BC Partners, EQT, Advent
and CD&R declined to comment, while Wild, IFF, Sensient Flavors,
Ingredion and Cinven were not immediately available for comment.