Qualium Investissement buys Kermel from Equistone Partners Europe
Qualium Investissement buys Kermel from funds managed by Equistone Partners Europe Limited (‘Equistone’) for an undisclosed amount. Kermel is the world’s only producer of fire-resistant polyamide-imide (PAI) fibers for textile, technical and industrial applications.
Founded in 1992, Kermel employs over 100 people at its Colmar plant (68). In 2011, sales were €37.5 million, with two-thirds outside France.
Kermel® fiber was developed through research at Rhône-Poulenc and is manufactured at the Colmar site, which has a production capacity of close to 2,000 metric tons. Kermel® fiber is designed for protective clothing for firefighters, police and military units, and workers in hazardous occupations in industries such as petrochemicals, steel, glass and electricity. Kermel Tech fiber is used in such technical applications as hot gas filtration and to make Kermel Insulright thermal and electrical insulating paper.
Following the transaction, funds managed by Qualium Investissement will hold a majority stake alongside the company’s management and executives. Since 2007, Kermel has been owned by a financial pool composed of funds managed by Equistone and Argos Soditic.
Since Equistone invested in Kermel in 2007, production capacity has increased by 50% and EBIT has doubled. Kermel has successfully diversified into newer customer segments and geographies, doubling sales of materials for industrial use and increased focus outside France, demonstrated by a doubling of turnover in North America.
Paul Costa de Beauregard, Managing Director of Qualium Investissement, notes, “We are extremely pleased with this transaction in a leading and exporting French company, strongly turned towards international markets, which designs and develops a unique product, driven by very talented managers, Venkatesh Tulluri and Markus Schwyn. Our investment will help the group to move into a new growth phase in France and abroad, in all Kermel fiber applications.”
Guillaume Jacqueau, Managing Partner of Equistone, states, “We are highly satisfied with this transaction, which marks the completion of a five-year partnership between the managements of Kermel and Equistone. During this period, Equistone’s support helped Kermel to grow by adding significantly to its production capacity, enabling it to increase sales, especially in exports and the industrial protective clothing segment.”
Venkatesh Tulluri and Markus Schwyn, two heads of Kermel, point out, “Our new partnership with Qualium Investissement, a subsidiary of the Caisse des Dépôts, raises Kermel’s profile in France and abroad. Kermel will be able to tap new resources to implement its growth strategy, both in fire-resistant fibers for heat-and-flame protective clothing and in diversification into technical applications.”
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