PAI Mulls 2010 IPO for Chr.Hansen

LONDON (Reuters) – French private equity firm PAI Partners is considering selling a stake in Danish bioscience company Chr.Hansen in an initial public offering worth as much as 1 billion euros ($1.50 billion), a person familiar with the matter said.

The source said on Monday that Chr.Hansen could be valued at about 2 billion euros in an IPO next year.

Separately, Frederic Stevenin, a partner at PAI, said: “This option is being pro-actively studied by our bankers, not by us. No decision has been taken at this stage”.

Stevenin said the strong financial performance of the company made it a natural candidate for a listing. PAI could benefit from the improvement of market conditions and may prefer to list Chr.Hansen later rather than sooner.

PAI acquired the food ingredients business operating under the Chr.Hansen name in 2005.

Chr.Hansen’s earnings before tax, interests, depreciation and amortisation for the year to the end of August grew 9.4 percent to 155 million euros, with free cash flow more than doubled to 78 million. (Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.6685 euro)