Littlejohn sells French chemicals company to AXA for €130

Eliokem, a Paris-based manufacturer of niche specialty chemicals, will be exited to AXA Private Equity.

Littlejohn & Company has agreed to sell Eliokem, a Paris-based specialty chemicals manufacturer, to French direct investment and fund of funds manager AXA Private Equity for €130 million ($166 million).

Littlejohn acquired the company in 2001 for an undisclosed amount in a corporate carve-out from the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Eliokem’s products include specialty resins for the painting and coating industry, antioxidants and performance enhancing polymers used in plastics applications and latex for tire cord.

Eliokem has three production facilities in France, the US and China and employs more than 460 people. In 2005, the company reported turnover of €148 million, up seven percent from 2004.

Bruno Ladribre, a director with AXA, said that this is the first acquisition in the chemicals sector for AXA. He added that the firm plans to use Eloikem as a platform for future growth through add-ons.

“We didn’t set out particularly attracted to specialty chemicals, we were attracted to their strong management team,” he said. “We looked at the market share in several niches and their brand new plant in China, and we found that this is a growing market with strong growth potential.”

AXA Private Equity has offices in Paris, Frankfurt, London, New York and Singapore and manages or advises funds with combined assets of more than €7 billion. The firm was not available to comment on the Eliokem transaction.

Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking was the sole mandated lead arranger and book runner for the senior and mezzanine financing of the transaction.

Eliokem is one of a number of companies Littlejohn has acquired through carve-outs from large companies. Littlejohn created Diamond Innovations in 2003 when it acquired the super abrasives business of General Electric. In 2001, the firm created Universal Lighting Technologies when it acquired the lighting technologies business of Magnetek.