DENMARK – Irish taste and nutrition company Kerry is set to acquire the lactase enzyme business of Novozymes and Chr. Hansen for a total consideration of €150 million, subject to routine closing adjustments.

Kerry is the beneficiary of a European Commission condition that required Novozymes and Chr. Hansen to divest their lactase enzyme business for their merger to be approved.

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy of the European Commission, said: “Novozymes is an established biotech player, which manufactures industrial enzymes, including lactase.

This is a concentrated area in which Chr. Hansen is an imminent competitor. The divestiture of Chr. Hansen’s lactase activities together with production assets will ensure that its pipeline project can come to market and preserve competition in the highly innovative biotech sector.”

By divesting part of the parties’ lactase businesses, the Commission reports that the transaction eliminates the danger of removing sufficient competition, and thereby reducing innovation in the industrial bio-tech sector.

The acquisition comprises certain trade and assets of Chr. Hansen’s global lactase enzyme business and 100% of the share capital of Nuocheng Trillion Food (Tianjin) Co., Ltd, a Chinese subsidiary of Novozymes.

Through the acquisition, Kerry will add enzyme technology that helps create lactose-free and sugar-reduced dairy products.

According to Euromonitor Passport 2022 research, lactose-free dairy is the industry’s fastest-growing segment globally, having experienced a market growth of 10% between 2016 and 2022.

Kerry has been keen to tap this demand and has been building up its expertise in enzymes in recent years, having acquired German biotechnology company c-LEcta GmbH in March 2022 and Mexico-based enzyme manufacturer Enmex in December 2021.

With this latest acquisition, which includes Chr. Hansen’s NOLA lactase products, Kerry is set to further positioned to meet rising global demand for lactase which it says is being driven by increased awareness of lactose intolerance and desire for lactose-free products for lifestyle and health reasons.

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