When Argos Soditic bought the flame-proof fibres maker Kermel in 2002, it was a division of indebted chemicals group Rhodia. Private equity provided the finances and expertise for Kermel to set up independently and embark upon an ambitious programme of R&D.
As a result the use of Kermel’s aramid fibres extended from flame-proof clothing to protect firefighters and workers in harzardous industries, such as petrochemicals, to making specialised filters for hot gases and electricity. Argos Soditic also brought in management with international experience to enable expansion into North America and Asia. In just five years, Kermel became the European leader in its field and almost doubled sales and quadrupled profits before it was sold in 2012.
With Argos Soditic we were able to create value within the company by implementing a strategy of innovation and growth in areas where our former parent company had previously held us back.
Markus Schwyn Chairman and CEO, Kermel
What did the business need?
- Company infrastructure to become an stand-alone business
- Investment in R&D to develop its product portfolio
- Strengthened management team
- Help to expand into the US and Asia
How did private equity backing create lasting value?
- Professionalised company organisation
- Established company systems and built a platform for growth
- Established a global sales network, including in the US and Asia
- Invested in R&D to find new applications for aramid fibres
What outcomes did private equity investment achieve?
- Volume of sales nearly doubled in five years up to 1,100 tons
- Profitability quadrupled during ownership up to a 25% operational margin
- Entered US and Asian markets, which made up 20% of sales by exit
- Developed new applications in specialised filters for hot gases and electricity
- Cemented Kermel’s position as leading European producer of aramid fibres