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Italmatch 25th Anniversary – The Spanish Years, into Oleochemicals (2012)

In 2012, Italmatch broadened its product portfolio with the acquisition of the Spanish oleochemical company Undesa

Communications Office

In case you missed it, read the article about Italmatch Chemicals acquisition of Arese plant acquisition by clicking the button below:

At the beginning of the second decade of the 2000s, Italmatch was one of the leading companies in the chemical industry and not only in Italy. But the firm objective was to run a marathon and not a sprint race, which is why it did not slow down in its commitment to seek out new partners to strengthen the team.

The acquisition of the lombard site had allowed the Italian base to be decisively consolidated, from Spoleto to Arese, in addition to the HQ in Genoa, the management’s gaze shifted westwards, identifying a new opportunity in the acquisition of the Spanish oleochemical company Undesa (Union Derivan S.A.), a company then controlled by the Italian Snia S.p.A., which in turn acquired it in 2007 with a 24.5 million Euro operation.

The logic of Italmatch decision was twofold, as the CEO, Sergio lorio, explained already the day after the operation.

On one hand, the Spanish Undesa plant would have made it possible to expand the production capacity of fatty acids, allowing for vertical integration of some products already made or purchased by Italmatch in its Arese plant.

On the other hand, the strong complementarity in terms of product portfolio would have further strengthened the positioning in the sector of lubricants and additives for plastics, with particular regard to products of natural origin – of great interest for the market – and biodegradable ones, complementary to the synthetic additives produced in Arese.

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Shared by Maria Jose Poch, Financial & HR Manager and part of the Undesa staff since 1987
"News of the acquisition by Italmatch was received with great joy. The Zuera plant had existed for fifty years. It had changed hands on other occasions, but in 2012 Snia S.p.A., of which we were part, was going through a period of great crisis and we feared that it could have repercussions on the reputation of the Spanish branch which had always been healthy. In recent years, Italmatch has invested heavily in the Spanish factory, contributing to its growth. Not only has production been strengthened and diversified, but the improvement also regarded the Research and Development area"

Zuera and Barcelona

Today, the Zuera plant, 30 kilometers from Zaragoza, and the offices in Barcelona employ around ninety people and represent a solid presence in the production of oleochemical products to be used as raw materials and additives in a large variety of sectors and products such as plastic, rubber, construction, detergents, cosmetics, paints and varnishes, resins, metalworking and pharmaceuticals.

Excellent results

With the acquisition of Undesa, Italmatch Group closed 2012 with a pro-forma turnover of over 140 million Euros and an Ebitda of approximately 24 million Euros, marking a further step forward in its constant growth path.

It is no coincidence that the purchase of Undesa found full approval by Mandarin Capital Partners, the private equity fund specializing in cross-border activities between Europe and China, which in 2010 had acquired a majority stake in Italmatch.

Italmatch 25th Anniversary - The Spanish Years, into Oleochemicals (2012)_3

The performance is even more remarkable if it is contextualized in the historical period in which it took place. We are in the midst of the recession triggered by the subprime financial crisis that broke out at the end of 2006 in the United States and spread globally after 15 September, 2008, the day of the bankruptcy of the investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Italmatch still did not directly have its own plants in the USA, but the shock wave affected the global economy for several years, resulting in a further financial storm in Europe, the one triggered by the sovereign debt crisis which put the stability of the euro at risk. However, every crisis, as already underlined, opens up new opportunities, especially for solid and growing companies.

In fact, despite the turbulent context, Italmatch managed to continue and consolidate its path without obvious hitches. It was precisely in those years that the Spanish operation ideally marked a moment of significant change, not only for the expansion of the market and for the diversification of products, but also in terms of personnel.

The reference figures always remained those who had started Italmatch adventure, with the guidance of Santiago Bargueño who led Undesa for thirty years (he remained in Italmatch group until his retirement, in 2020 – Editor’s note) and Antonio Sola, today Undesa sales director.

However a series of younger professionals were also brought into the company who, in addition to enriching the organization with new skills and abilities, embodied in parallel the drive towards the future and the foresight of a group which, after China and Europe, was now ready to sail the Atlantic Ocean and further open up to new markets.

At this point of its history, Italmatch Chemicals was finally ready to make a new step.

This time, into the water treatment market towards the United States:

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