Butler nears ‘gradual’ ATYS sale

French private equity firm Butler Capital Partners has announced it is in talks with Austria’s Agrana about the possible sale of ATYS Group, a Butler portfolio company.

In a statement, Vienna-based Agrana and Butler Capital Partners said they were in ‘advanced’ negotiations regarding Agrana’s ‘gradual takeover’ of ATYS Group.

Paris-based ATYS Group is a world leader in fruit preparations for use in the processing and manufacturing industries. It has annual turnover of around E400m, 20 factories in 16 countries, and employs approximately 2,200 people.

Formerly known as SIAS, ATYS was set up in 1965 and was acquired by Butler Capital Partners from Pernod-Ricard in May 2002 for E170m. Butler took an 82 per cent stake in the business, while the management team acquired 15 per cent and Credit Agricole three per cent. 
Agrana says it intends to acquire 100 per cent of ATYS in four separate stages to be completed by the end of 2006. Financial details have not been disclosed. A deal agreement is due to be signed by the end of January 2004 subject to the approval of competition authorities.

Butler Capital Partners manages two buyout and turnaround funds and invests between E3m and E45m in sectors including communications, electronics, life sciences and health.

Agrana, a sugar and starch extraction company, is 43 per cent-owned by Suedzucker, Europe’s largest sugar producer. It has built a presence in the fruit juice concentrate and fruit juice preparations segments through the acquisitions of Steirerobst of Austria and Vallo Saft of Denmark.