Cinven has tipped carve-outs to be a big feature of the European M&A outlook for 2023, with its planned acquisition of MBCC Admixtures a sign of things to come in the industrials sector, Pontus Pettersson, partner at Cinven, told PE Hub Europe.
London-based private equity firm Cinven has made several carve-outs in recent years, but believes there will be even more opportunities to come.
“I think that there is a growing recognition, in corporate Europe, that strategic focus has value,” he said. “Large groups that have come together over time, they are coming to the realisation that they own and operate numerous activities that are not essential to what they do. They strategically think it makes sense to rationalise their portfolios.”
But carve-outs are no simple task. They require a substantial amount of expertise, stakeholder sensitivity and experience, according to Pettersson. “It’s important to pay a fair price for a business of course, but it is also important to be able to articulate a vision,” he added.
Cinven has carved-out TK Elevator from thyssenkrupp, Arxada from Lonza Group and Envu from Bayer since 2020.
With MBCC Admixtures Cinven sees an opportunity to re-enter the Middle Eastern and Asian markets.
Headquartered in Mannheim, Germany, MBCC Admixtures is a global manufacturer of concrete admixtures, as well as other sustainable products for the construction industry. The business operates under the Master Builders brand. Cinven will acquire MBCC from Sika, a Swiss multinational speciality chemical company.
“On the M&A side, there is an opportunity to reinforce our product offering in the US and Europe,” Pettersson said. “Of course, Sika is retaining the admixtures business in the Middle East and Asia, and we see opportunity to re-enter those markets, through a combination of organic growth and M&A.”
While the immediate focus for MBCC will remain with Europe, the US and New Zealand, Pettersson described the Middle East as the most promising new territory. “There is a lot of construction and investment there at the moment,” he said. “It is also logistically near Europe, meaning it can be served from our European production footprint.”
The M&A component is only one piece of the puzzle, as initially Cinven wants to set a new strategic vision for MBCC, built around the company’s technical capabilities and organic growth in its key markets, according to Pettersson.
MBCC has been in a “slight state of uncertainty” for an extended period of time, according to Pettersson, passing from owner to owner since 2019. “BASF announced the sale, then Lone Star very quickly announced the sale to Sika,” said Pettersson. “There was a period of time when the employees did not know what portions of the business would be sold or to whom. We want to offer stability and consolidation as we move forward.”
Cinven is not new to the world of admixtures. From 2017 to 2021, the firm had an investment in French company Chryso. “The admixture space we think has a very favourable outlook,” Pettersson said. “That is because it is the lowest cost and most efficient way to decarbonise the production of cement and concrete.”
MBCC specifically has competitive advantages, which Pettersson said are built on the capability of its people and intellectual property. “Those are sources of differentiation that we value.”