Ansell still looking to expand

Condom and glove maker Ansell says it is looking at further acquisitions across the globe after snapping up the French glove giant Comasec.

The deal, worth 101.5 million euro ($119 million), highlights Ansell’s optimism in an otherwise troubled Europe. Comasec, owner of the famous European glove brand Marigold, turned over 100 million euros, or $117 million, last year. It has manufacturing operations in Portugal and Malaysia and more than 1200 employees.

Ansell says the deal will be earnings per share accretive this financial year. It is made more attractive by the decline in the euro versus the US dollar, which is Ansell’s currency.

Ansell chief executive Magnus Nicolin told a teleconference this morning: ‘‘What we particularly like about the company are its products. They have a number of products that we don’t have, so they complement us in the utility space, in some of the food area. ‘‘We obviously have known them for many years. They’ve been a strong competitor and we’ve had a lot of respect for them, and therefore we’re delighted that … they are now going to part of Ansell.’’

Shares in Ansell were 31 cents to $13.41, valuing the company at $1.75 billion.

The acquisition follows three buys for the year to April 2012 worth a combined $US45 million. Ansell is set to release its results next week.

Questioned on further acquisitions, Mr Nicolin said Ansell was looking across Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia for opportunities.

‘‘As you know with acquisitions, you have to work on several to get a few to come through,’’ he said.

‘‘We have, as you know, a strong focus on emerging markets and obviously would welcome opportunities to look at companies in those kind of markets. But the fact is that there are fewer opportunities in the emerging market environment.’’

Mr Nicolin added that while no players operating in debt-laden Europe could completely shake off the continent’s economic woes, Comasec had been less affected than other companies in their marketplace.

And despite the well-documented challenges in Europe, it remains the ‘‘biggest single marketplace for industrial hand protection and medical and sexual wellness [condoms.] So it’s a big market.

‘‘Yes, Europe is going through some challenges. It affects certain parts more than others. Clearly, we all know and see what’s going on in southern Europe, whereas central and northern Europe is running quite well, in particular Germany, the Nordic regions, eastern Europe and slightly beyond Europe … Turkey and the Middle East are running quite strong.

‘‘So it’s obviously a bit of a mixed bag, and for that reason we feel that this is as good a time as any to make this investment. We also believe, I believe, that Europe will come through these difficulties and will be having a growing economy in all these markets again.’’

Comasec chief executive Pascal Berend, whose father founded the business in 1948, said the company was pleased to join forces with Ansell.

‘‘This combination will generate many opportunities to accelerate growth and innovation while continuing to provide quality products and services to our customers,’’ he said in a statement.

Ansell recently appointed John Bevan, chief executive of Alumina, to its board and earlier appointed Glenn Barnes as its deputy chairman. Fund manager Perpetual has also increased its stake in the company to 11.2 per cent from 10 per cent.

Citi recently tipped Ansell would be net cash positive in FY13 in the absence of new share buybacks and/or acquisitions. Analyst Alex Smith said Citi liked Ansell on valuation grounds. The company’ s shares are down 8.5 per cent in the year to date.

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