Safex Chemicals India Limited (Safex), a fast-growing Indian agrochemicals company, announces the acquisition of Briar Chemicals (Briar), the UK’s leading agrochemicals Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO) provider, from the pan-European alternative investment firm AURELIUS Equity Opportunities. Safex is backed by ChrysCapital, one of India’s largest private equity firms, which owns a significant minority stake in the business.
Briar Chemicals, based in Norwich, is the UK’s leading agrochemicals CDMO solutions provider and serves the world’s most innovative agrochemical companies. It was formed as a carve-out transaction from Bayer CropScience in 2012. Briar has complex chemistry and CDMO process development capabilities and employs around 250 people. The company operates from a 115-acre well-invested manufacturing site consisting of the lab to large-scale reactors, with sufficient available space and infrastructure for future expansion. Neeraj Jindal, Director of Safex, has joined the Board of Briar Chemicals and will steer the future growth of the company.
“We are delighted to enter the UK by acquiring the country’s pre-eminent independent agrochemical CDMO provider,” said Piyush Jindal, Director of Safex. “The addition of Briar to Safex’s crop protection business strengthens our position in the global agrochemicals market.”
Founded in New Delhi in 1991, Safex is a leading Indian manufacturer and supplier of the most advanced crop protection chemicals. Safex is one of the fastest-growing agrochemical companies in India, having achieved a Combined Annual Growth Rate of over 25% in revenues over the last five years. Briar is Safex’s first overseas acquisition and forms part of the company’s strategy for global expansion in step with the substantial growth of the worldwide agrochemicals market, which is set to increase in value by over 11% from USD 62.3 billion in 2022 to USD 69.4 billion in 2026.
New agricultural land cannot be developed fast enough to keep up with global population growth, which is expected to increase from about 7.6 billion people now to around 8.8 billion by 2035, so farmers rely on agrochemicals to generate greater yields. Another long-term macro driver of the agrochemicals industry is rising biofuel consumption, which is forecast to grow by around 30% in the five years from 2021 to 2026 as a result of high and rising oil prices.
“Acquiring Briar Chemicals will fast-track Safex into becoming a fully integrated company, present in all industry verticals. Strong operational synergies and strategic vision will help Safex to become an important player in the global agrochemical industry. This is a very exciting time for our business,” said Mr. SK Chaudhary, Founder, and Director of Safex.
Mr. R K Jindal, another director of Safex, views the acquisition as a sign that the Indian agrochemical industry has arrived.
“The acquisition of Briar is strategic and will help catapult Safex’s growth in the global agrochemicals market,” said Raghav Ramdev, Managing Director of ChrysCapital. “In addition to providing equity, ChrysCapital will work with management on the transition and integration of the acquisition.”
“Briar is a trusted long-term partner to many of the world´s largest chemical groups, with an impressive heritage,” said Matthias Täubl, CEO of AURELIUS Equity Opportunities. “Since becoming part of the AURELIUS portfolio, Briar first stabilised and subsequently significantly expanded its position. We thank the Briar team for their efforts and contribution to this success story and wish them continued success as part of Safex’s European business.”
Safex was advised on the transaction by Investec (Corporate Finance), KPMG (Financial and Tax DD), Bird & Bird (Legal), Bodhi Tree (Debt Advisor), RK & Associates (Commercial DD), and Girish Kshirsagar (Technical DD). R Hariharan (agrochemical industry advisor) assisted in key areas of market sizing, regulatory aspects, and the competitive landscape.
AURELIUS was advised on the transaction by DC Advisory, Deloitte (Financial), Travers Smith (Legal), EY (Tax), NexantECA (Commercial), and Birketts (Property).