Thibault Basquin: ANGUS is our first North American acquisition for the Buyout group and it’s a deal of size, which makes it doubly important. After we set up our US team in 2018, ANGUS quickly came on to our radar as a tier-one potential opportunity that fitted our investment criteria and strategy. We have a lot of experience in healthcare and specialty chemicals in Europe, and we heard very positive things about David and his management team, so we started work immediately. Luckily, our discussions began before the pandemic so we could meet in person and visit their factories in the US and Germany, but when we saw how they performed through the crisis we were even more convinced.
Our ambitious approach to sustainability has played a critical role in improving the resilience of our portfolio companies during the pandemic.
David Neuberger: We were really impressed with Ardian’s due diligence. As an example, they were the only group that I reached out to personally to better understand one of our end markets, because I thought some of their experts had better insights than we did internally. That’s extremely rare and it made all of us think, ‘maybe these guys do things a little bit differently.’ We could see there was a network that Ardian could bring that we did not have access to elsewhere, on top of shared values and a philosophy of partnering with management teams.
TB: Our involvement with ANGUS is unusual because their previous shareholder, Golden Gate Capital, has reinvested for a 50% stake, so we are equal partners with them. As Ardian, we already had other indirect relationships with Golden Gate via our platform and the feedback we had from David was that he was extremely happy with them. They have fully supported ANGUS’ growth strategy over the past five years, so we were pleased to partner with them.
DN: Golden Gate’s network and resources are concentrated in the US and with them we’ve built a very profitable business in life sciences and personal care, which has grown organically to about 50% of our revenues in 2020.
Where this situation starts to get really interesting with Ardian’s involvement is that they are much stronger on the international side and can give us access to European M&A opportunities that will accelerate our growth in those markets.
TB: We are strong believers that ANGUS can become a consumer-focused company. For example, when we invested, personal care represented about 10% of the business. If we want it to reach 20% or more a few years from now, we need to do M&A. The big opportunity we see is that there are a lot of interesting small- to midsize personal care companies headquartered in European countries like France and Spain, where our networks are strong. This is true as well for life sciences.
We have no doubt that with this strategy ANGUS can become a billion-dollar-revenue group over the next couple of years.
DN: As a leadership team and as a company, we realize that we are somewhat unique in the Ardian portfolio because we are the first North American investment of this size. We take that commitment very seriously and in addition to any financial benefits to the group, we want the Ardian team to do well too. We want to show what we’re capable of and help tell that story for future investors.