British Salt goes to India in £100m+ deal

BRITISH Salt, the Cheshire-based salt producer has been sold to Indian conglomerate Tata Group in a deal worth more than £100m.

Tata’s Cheshire-based subsidiary Brunner Mond – a leading chemicals manufacturer -will pay £93m up front for Middlewhich-based British Salt. Subject to regulatory approval the deal is expected to be completed next month.

The business is being sold by the Manchester office of private equity house LDC, which acquired it in 2007 from a US corporate.

British Salt produces approximately 50% of the UK’s pure salt, markets a variety of specialist products for a wide range of UK and overseas markets, from food processing to chemicals production. It employs 125 people 

In 2009, British Salt sold a network of ten underground chambers used as natural gas storage facilities to EDF Energy for the development of a fast-cycle gas storage facility, which is currently under development. A sum of around £95m is expected to be paid in respect of this transaction.

LDC Manchester director Carl Wormald, who – with investment manager Jon Pickering – led LDC’s original investment and subsequent exit, said: “This is an optimum outcome for all parties.

“The acquisition represents a highly strategic move by Brunner Mond, providing an important presence in several growth markets across Europe.

“It also provides an excellent opportunity for British Salt’s customers and employees, becoming part of a leading European manufacturing group and ultimately one of the world’s largest and most geographically diversified chemical groups with a worldwide reputation for innovation, quality of customer service and commitment to sustainability.”

Bill Thompson, chief executive Officer of British Salt, said: “Given the strategic alignment of our businesses, as well as the significant combined expertise and resources, this acquisition provides a major opportunity to achieve growth in our chosen markets and to add value to our existing customers.

“We would also like to thank LDC for its continued support over the last three years – at a strategic, operational and financial level – which has helped further develop a business with an excellent reputation and pedigree for quality manufacturing and customer service. We now look forward to the next chapter of our growth with Brunner Mond.”  

Martin Ashcroft, managing director of Northwich-based Brunner Mond, said: “This acquisition represents an excellent opportunity for Brunner Mond to leverage its manufacturing and processing expertise to accelerate the growth of British Salt, which has already achieved an enviable reputation in several fast-growing and non-cyclical markets. This provides further opportunities for both organisations’ customers in markets around the world.”

Paul Lupton, corporate finance partner at Deloitte, and Neil Shepherd, partner at law firm DLA Piper in Manchester, advised the shareholders. Ken Williamson, partner at Ernst & Young, and Michael Birchall ,partner at Addleshaw Goddard, advised Brunner Mond.

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As well as Brunner Mond, Tata Group owns leading UK car brands Jaguar and Land Rover.

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