Chemicals business hits ‘strategic bullseye’ with £232m acquisition

Chemicals business Croda International has agreed to acquire Solus Biotech, a South Korean supplier of premium biotech derived beauty actives, from Solus Advanced Materials for about £232m.

The deal gives the East Yorkshire-based business access to Solus’ existing biotech-derived ceramide and phospholipid technologies, and its emerging capabilities in natural retinol.

It will strengthen Croda’s Beauty Actives portfolio and give the company greater ability to serve luxury beauty customers in Asia and globally. Solus also expands Croda’s Asian manufacturing capability and will create a new biotechnology R&D hub in the region.

Steve Foots

Steve Foots, chief executive of Croda, said: “This is a strategic bullseye for us, consolidating our position as a global leader in supplying sustainable, natural actives for personal care across three critical technology platforms of peptides, ceramides and retinol.

“It significantly enhances our sustainable biotechnology capabilities and adds a North Asia manufacturing and innovation facility, providing a springboard to premium markets in Asia and beyond.

“I am especially excited about their brilliant technology, with Solus bringing rich IP and proprietary know-how that we will be able to deliver to customers globally.”

Solus Biotech has more than 30 years’ experience in biotechnology and fermentation and generated around £28m worth of sales in 2022. It employs 95 people in South Korea at its R&D centre in Bundag near Seoul and its production centre in Iksan.

Solus is a supplier of naturally derived powder ceramides, a high-growth global market with further potential to extend into formulated ceramides.

The number of new personal care products containing ceramides has doubled over the last five years, principally for skin care but increasingly for hair care formulations.

Access to Croda’s formulation capabilities will accelerate development of Solus’ formulated ceramides to create even greater value for our customers globally.

Solus also brings a portfolio of phospholipids, spanning pharmaceutical applications and beauty care.

These naturally derived phospholipids can be used as delivery systems for pharmaceutical actives and cosmetics. In addition, Solus is developing biotech-derived retinol, which is a sustainable alternative to synthetically derived retinol.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.