Candover, Ontex confirm talks

The UK private equity house is in exclusive talks with Ontex's family owners over the sale of its E1bn stake in the hygience products manufacturer.

UK-listed private equity house Candover is in talks with the founding family of Belgian hygiene products manufacturer Ontex over the acquisition of its 75 per cent interest in the company.


In a statement to the Euronext stock market yesterday, the Van Malderen family confirmed that it was in talks to sell its stake to Candover, and that Deutsche Bank was advising the family on the sale.


Ontex manufactures feminine hygiene, baby diapers and incontinence products, both as private label products for large European retail chains and for hospitals and care homes. Since its establishment in 1979, the company has reported considerable growth, floating on the Euronext stock exchange in 1998. In 2001, the firm reported worldwide turnover of E725m.


Despite the company’s strong growth, it has suffered a decline in its market performance, falling to E51 from a 1999 high of E76.50. News of the talks has seen the company’s share price climb to E73.60, approaching the anticipated E82 per share offer expected from Candover.


Late yesterday, a Candover spokesperson confirmed the talks, adding that no further announcements were expected in the near future. The Van Malderen family is seeking around E725m for its stake in the company, on top of debt of E276m.


Candover has recently been linked with a number of transactions, including the recent E600m acquisition of Kluwer Academic Publishing from Wolters Kluwer and a possible bid for Bertelsmann scientific publishing business.