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EQT weighs options for infection prevention firm Schuelke – sources

EQT [STO:EQT] is exploring options including a sale for Schuelke & Mayr, according to sources familiar with the matter, just shy of three years since acquiring the German infection prevention specialist.

The Swedish buyout group is in the early stages of preparing an exit from Norderstedt, Germany-headquartered Schuelke ahead of a formal auction that could kick off as soon as this year, said the sources.

While a process to select a sale adviser is ongoing, there is no certainty that the deliberations will lead to a transaction, they added.

Founded in 1889, Schuelke has become a powerhouse in the infection prevention solutions industry. The company supplies disinfectants, antiseptics and medical and cosmetic skin care products across healthcare, life sciences and services settings. EQT’s EQT VIII fund acquired Schuelke from France’s Air Liquide [EPA:AI] for up to EUR 1bn (USD 1.05bn) in 2020.

EQT is expected to pitch Schuelke off projected EBITDA of roughly EUR 100m, three of the sources said, underscoring the extent of the business’s rapid growth during the throes of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time of the 2020 JPMorgan-led auction, which also saw interest from buyout group Ardian, the company was being marketed off EBITDA in the region of EUR 50m-EUR 70m, according to earlier Mergermarket reporting.

Schuelke agreed to sell its personal care business to US chemicals maker Ashland [NYSE:ASH] for EUR 262.5m in January 2021.

Besides Schuelke, EQT’s flagship VIII vehicle owns Swiss skincare group Galderma, one of the market's most highly anticipated IPO candidates when the window reopens. There are already two listed assets in the fund: German open-source solutions provider SUSE [ETR:SUSE] and Belgian chemical distributor Azelis [EBR:AZE], both of which are trading underwater with the sponsor still owning a large chunk of shares.

A representative for EQT declined to comment. Schuelke did not respond to requests for comment.

by Ryan Gould in New York, Rachel Lewis and Georgina Barnard in London and Patrick Costello in Berlin