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Italmatch 25th Anniversary – Entry into Water Treatment and “USA Campaign” (2013-2018)

In 2013, the Italmatch Group first entered the water additives market

Communications Office

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From Italy to Spain, passing through China, in just over a decade the Italmatch Group ecosystem had consolidated and expanded, reaching over 300 employees. 2013 was the catalytic year of this constant growth, accelerating the chemical reaction that is Italmatch expansion path. The central element was the decision to enter the market for water treatment products, which had many points of technological contact with the activities that Italmatch was already conducting.

From a business point of view, it was the biggest and most important turning point in the company’s history, given that this sector today represents around 50% of its turnover. In just a few years, Italmatch finalized several acquisitions on a global scale, from East to West, supported by Mandarin first and then Ardian, the private equity fund that had held the majority of Italmatch shares since 2014. Chronologically, the first operation took place in 2013 with the acquisition of the phosphonate brand Dequest owned by Thermphos International B.V., leader in the field of phosphorus chlorides and phosphonates, based in the Netherlands and production facilities in Newport (UK), Louvain-le- Neuve (Belgium) and in the industrial park Höchst in Frankfurt (Germany).

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Shared by Foort De Jong, now Director of Subsidiaries & Projects at Italmatch
"It was a carve out, a complex integration operation that required a joint organizational, technical and corporate effort"

It was an operation that brought Italmatch a business worth around 80 million Euros and around 100 new employees. During that year, Italmatch achieved a turnover of around 250 million Euros and had 450 employees.

Furthermore, it gained access to a strong and broader international market, having simultaneously acquired direct sales subsidiaries in Singapore, Japan and the United States. It was only the starting point for a decisive evolution, leveraging the leading Dequest brand (originally Monsanto) already known worldwide:

Italmatch 25th Anniversary – Entry into Water Treatment and USA Campaign (2013-2018)
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Shared by Mark Eyers stated, part of the Italmatch Group since 2013 and now Vice President of the Advanced Water Solutions division
"The strategy was to transform the production and sale of phosphonates, a commodity,into a leading supplier of functional solutions and raw materials for a wide range of additives for water management, achieving a unique position in the water treatment and industrial processes market. The objective was achieved both through internal growth, with the establishment of a global technical center of R&D excellence in Arese that worked on the development of innovative products, and through external growth, with new acquisitions"
Italmatch 25th Anniversary – Entry into Water Treatment and USA Campaign (2013-2018)

Regarding the water treatment sector, approximately ten acquisitions have been completed in ten years. This has allowed the company to consolidate and grow in the long term, with particular attention to water treatment and industrial processes, where experience and know-how are key success factors, together with additives for lubricants, fuels and for plastic materials and high-performance chemicals.

Today Dequest is a leading global brand of Italmatch, with applications ranging from traditional industrial water treatment and cleaning to process treatment such as desalination, mining and geothermal energy, as well as domestic and industrial cleaning.

In Italy, in 2014, Italmatch acquired GRS Chemical Technologies, a company with production headquarters in Qualiano, a few kilometers from Naples. The decision was taken based on GRS’s strong technological experience and know-how in the water-soluble polymers technology, which represented a highly complementary and synergistic fit with phosphonate antiscalants.

The addition of GRS to the Dequest portfolio has indeed made the group’s position much stronger, especially in certain markets, where GRS polymers and Dequest phosphonates can play a synergistic effect – special applications such as mining, geothermal, desalination, pulp and paper.

At this point in its history, Italmatch boasted six production sites in Europe, four in the Asia and Pacific area, as well as a series of sales and distribution activities in Belgium, Poland, Japan, Singapore, India, China and the USA. A further step was taken at the beginning of 2016, namely the acquisition of the phosphorus-based chemicals business branch for water treatment of Solvay Group (an international group based in Brussels), operating in the production of solutions and additives whose base were phosphonates and other chemicals for desalination, industrial water treatment and mining.


In the USA

Italmatch was ready for a further step: overseas production. This took place in 2016, when Italmatch purchased 100% of Compass Chemical International, the most important independent chemical company in North America, active in the production and marketing of phosphonates and additives for water treatment and the oil & gas market.

A move that allowed Italmatch not only to consolidate its presence in the American market, with an important production plant, but also to expand the range of products for the highly strategic business segment of water treatment.

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Shared by Danny McCaul, Chairman at Compass
"Compass had competed with Italmatch in North America, and I knew Sergio lorio fairly well. We had great respect for Italmatch and we were excited about the new ownership. Not only did we see the obvious business synergy, but we also saw a clear cultural fit. Compass could not have ended up with a better owner"

But Italmatch horizon was soon to emerge. That same year also saw the acquisition, through Italmatch do Brasil, of Sudamfos do Brasil, a reference company in the South American country in the distribution and marketing of phosphonates, phosphates and other special chemical products. An operation that marked the entry into a market of strong interest and potential for the group such as Latin America.

Italmatch 25th Anniversary – Entry into Water Treatment and USA Campaign (2013-2018)

Meanwhile, still in the USA, Italmatch completed another important operation, with the acquisition of Detrex Corporation, a company with headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, specialized, through its subsidiary Elco Corporation, in the production of high performance lubricating additives, including additives for industrial applications and high-purity hydrochloric acid.

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Shared by David Millin, LPA Vice President
"The Lubricant Performance Additive business unit was established by combining the Italmatch polymer esters plants and product lines with the Elco industrial additives and Polartech metalworking line acquired in 2018 from the Afton Corporation. In this way we have created a complete range of products for our customers in the industrial lubricants market"

In 2018, the entire business & asset relating to the production and sale of phosphonate-based additives, produced at the site of Jiayou Chemical Co, China, was acquired from Ecolab Group (already a world leader in technologies and services for water, hygiene and energy) and a long term partnership with Ecolab was established on global basis.

With this acquisition, Italmatch definitively became the global leader in phosphonates, having achieved a unique position from a manufacturing perspective in each of the three global regions – Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. In 2019, the big event was the acquisition of BWA Water Additives, a leading global provider of sustainable water management solutions for the oil and gas industry, industrial water treatment and desalination plants.

The BWA operation, a company specialized in the application (but not in the production) of additives and biocides, made it possible to launch the expansion of GRS, according to a “make or buy” policy, to start making “in house” all the products that BWA in the past bought from third parties. The large acquisition, therefore, gave rise to an integration project between BWA Manchester headquarters and the Qualiano site, in Italy.

Italmatch 25th Anniversary – Entry into Water Treatment and USA Campaign (2013-2018)
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Shared by Maurizio Turci, Group GM Corporate and GRS Sole Director
"Thanks to the group's investments, GRS site has expanded its total surface area from 12,000 sq. mt. to 40,000 sq. mt., with production capacity reaching 36,000 tons per year and the possibility of reaching 50,000 tons through optimised organisation. It is one of the largest plants in the field of water-soluble polymers in Europe"

The last addition in the Usa in 2019 was the American WSTWater Science Technologies, a company based in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. With revenues of approximately $75 million and nearly 40 employees, it was a leader in the business of blending and providing chemical solutions for the oil & gas and industrial water treatment sectors.

BWA and WST acquisitions became integral part of what is now the Advanced Water Solutions division, entirely dedicated to water treatment, with a dense network throughout the world, and the Oil & Gas Solutions division, focused in particular on products in the sector. On the lubricants front – another fundamental branch for Italmatch in 2018 the Group finalized an agreement with Afton Chemical for the acquisition of Polartech, a manufacturer of fluids for metalworking, with production sites in Bedford Park, Illinois (USA) and Manchester, UK, as well as a branch in Hyderabad. Today, factories and laboratories in the lubricants branch have merged into Italmatch Lubricant Performance Additives division.

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Shared by James Sasser, WST CEO
"As we celebrate a quarter of a century of innovation and growth, Italmatch strategic acquisition of WST in 2019 marked a significant milestone in our further expansion into the dynamic oil and gas sector. Our end-to-end capabilities of Italmatch global excellence were a synergistic relationship and pioneering chemical solutions that meet the unique demands of the US market. Today, as an integral part of Italmatch, we are at the forefront of the industry, driving sustainability and efficiency in the Oil & Gas business and strengthening our commitment to being a leader in the specialty chemicals market, both in the US and globally"

Start-ups and green solutions also in O&G

Meanwhile, Italmatch focused in Europe on Eco Inhibitors, a technological start-up based in Norway, which stood out for having developed chemical solutions to produce a new generation of ecological hydrate inhibitors for oil & gas applications. With Eco-Inhibitors, products with high environmental compatibility were presented to the market, in particular a class of inhibitors derived from recovered salmon waste, in a perfect example of circular economy.

In 2017, it was the time of the French start-up Magpie Polymers, creator and owner of advanced and patented selective resins for the recovery of precious metals (such as palladium, platinum, silver and gold) in the treatment of residual deposits in the water process.

mAubin® Xmax Barrier technology for water shut-off - New case history out now
Italmatch 25th Anniversary – Entry into Water Treatment and USA Campaign (2013-2018)

In 2021, Italmatch’s new Oil & Gas division was created from a spin-off of Advanced Water Solutions. The creation of a dedicated team made it possible to focus Italmatch efforts on further developments to make Oil & Gas more efficient and more sustainable.

In 2022, Italmatch acquired Aubin Group from BGF (an investment company), active in the UK and Ireland, with headquarters in Scotland and offices in the UK and Middle East.

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Shared by Scott Miller, part of the Oil & Gas team and also CEO of Aubin Group
"Aubin is a key player in the services and technologies that complement Italmatch's portfolio. Aubin is also positioned to be at the forefront of the energy transition with its portfolio of innovative technologies for offshore wind farms and innovative solutions for the safe abandonment of oil wells during decommissioning, even in the most challenging conditions, ensuring their long-term integrity and reducing their environmental impact"

The acquisition further strengthened Italmatch Chemicals’ positioning in strategic markets such as the Middle East, the US and the North Sea in the oil & gas and renewable energy sectors. A new frontier was ready to be conquered.

Stay tuned for the next article on our latest projects and acquisitions in China

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