Pool and spa chemical powerhouse BioLab is set to be purchased, taking its parent out of the pool and spa industry and increasing the profile of a relative newcomer to the market.
Toronto-based KIK Custom Products Inc., which joined the industry two years ago, announced it has entered into a stock purchase agreement to acquire Chemtura Corp.’s Consumer Products business, called BioLab in North America and Bayrol in Europe.
BioLab’s Lawrenceville, Ga.-based operations produce the BioGuard, Omni, ProGuard, Spa Essentials, SpaGuard, and Sun brand chemicals for specialty pool and spa retail outlets. It also makes the Aqua Chem, Pool Time and Spa Time lines for mass retailers, and the Greased Lightning and The Works brands of household and multipurpose cleaners.
The transaction, expected to close this Dec. 31, will take place for $315 million in cash, subject to customary adjustments. It will be financed through debt underwritten by Credit Suisse and UBS Investment Bank, as well as an equity investment in KIK made by an affiliate of its owner, the New York-based private equity firm CI Capital Partners.
The acquisition marks KIK’s second expansion in the pool and spa industry this year. It announced in August that it had formed a partnership with Clorox to roll out a line of pool and spa care products bearing the iconic brand. The line is expected to launch in 2014. KIK originally entered the market in 2011 with the purchase of Chem-Lab Products of Ontario, Calif.
The BioLab acquisition only escalates KIK’s presence in the pool and spa market. “This acquisition will be an important step in the next-stage growth of our company,” said KIK CEO Jeff Nodland. “We expect it to contribute to generating strong free cash flow while diversifying our product portfolio and expanding our customers and channels.”
The BioLab name carries an iconic status of its own in the pool and spa industry. It was founded in 1955 by Leon Bloom as a producer of cleansing agents and disinfectants for the poultry industry. It then branched into pool and spa chemicals in the early 1960s. The manufacturer became known for creating a three-step system of chemicals that would work together to optimize the water chemistry. The company remained in the Bloom family until the late 1970s, when it sold to the Lonza Group. In 1996, BioLab was purchased by Great Lakes Chemical Corp., which merged with Crompton Corporation to form Chemtura in 2005. BioLab’s products have been sold not only throughout North America and Europe, but Australia and South Africa as well.
With this development, BioLab finds its home in a company whose core is consumer products for the first time since the Blooms sold to Lonza, said former BioLab executive Charlie Schobel. “KIK is into consumer products and also chemicals, so I think it’s a very good fit,” said Schobel, a longtime employee who most recently served as vice president/general manager before retiring last year.
In addition to BioLab, Philadelphia-based Chemtura also may sell its agrochemicals business so it can focus on industrial specialty chemicals, including petroleum additives, urethane products, flame retardants, brominated products and organometallics.
“[The] announcements represent the next step in our plan to simplify and transform our portfolio, positioning us to better benefit from secular industry growth trends in our chosen areas of market focus and create a sustainable competitive advantage,” said Craig A. Rogerson, Chemtura’s chairman, president and CEO, in a press release.
KIK says it is one of the largest contract and private label manufacturers of consumer, institutional and industrial products in North America, and includes Fortune 500 companies among its clients. It reports more than $1.2 billion in sales in 2012. It has 14 manufacturing facilities throughout the continent. In addition to pool and spa care products, it markets bleach, household cleaners and sanitizers, personal care goods, and over-the-counter medicated and pharmaceutical products.
In 2009, Chemtura filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, from which it emerged the following year. In 2012, the corporation reported $2.6 billion in sales. It will begin accounting for the BioLab/Bayrol business as a “discontinued operation” in its third quarter, 2013, financial statements.