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Chr. Hansen, Novozymes merger approved, Kerry to acquire lactase enzyme business

The European Commission has cleared the merger between Chr. Hansen and Novozymes, conditional upon compliance with the commitments offered by the parties to divest their interests in lactase manufacturing. Kerry Group has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the lactase enzyme business of the two companies on a carve-out basis. Kerry’s acquisition of the lactase enzyme business is subject to Commission approval. This business is assessed at a total consideration of €150 million, subject to routine closing adjustments. The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2024. The agreement to purchase part of the lactase enzyme business was dependent on the European Commission’s clearance – which was recently given – of the merger between Danish bioscience companies Novozymes and Chr. Hansen. The merger was initially announced in December last year. 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. Novozymes and Chr. Hansen’s commitments will be monitored by “an independent trustee.” 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.” With the clearance from the European Commission, Novozymes and Chr. Hansen have announced their new name as a merged business: Novonesis. Ester Baiget, president and CEO of Novozymes, said: “Novonesis reflects where we came from, what we can achieve, and what we will become together. We are dedicated to harnessing the transformative potential of biology. Building on our legacy of developing innovative BioSolutions, we stand ready to unlock unprecedented opportunities. In Novonesis, we will unite the brightest minds and the best science and technology in the field to help customers and businesses prosper while enabling them to solve some of the greatest challenges we all face. We are here to start an era of BioSolutions. That is why we have chosen to call our new company Novonesis which means ‘A new beginning’.” In a joint release the companies stated that they expect the merger to close in the first quarter of 2024 subject to regulatory approval: “The name Novonesis will be used and gradually implemented once the proposed combination is completed. Until final merger control approvals are received, and the proposed combination completes, Novozymes and Chr. Hansen operate as completely separate companies.”

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