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Ontex’s Top Investor Weighs Buyout of Diaper Maker

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Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA is considering a bid to take diaper maker Ontex Group NV private, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Belgian investment firm has held on-and-off talks with potential partners, including private equity firms and owners of similar brands, about a deal to buy out Ontex’s minority shareholders, the people said. It’s already Ontex’s biggest investor with a 20% stake. 

Shares of Ontex have fallen 31% in Brussels trading over the past 12 months, giving the company a market value of about 488 million euros ($542 million). Deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty of a deal, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. 

A representative for GBL declined to comment, citing a quiet period. The company is scheduled to report its 2021 results on March 10. A spokesperson for Ontex didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ontex reported a 27% drop in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2021, blaming unprecedented raw material and operating cost inflation. It said in February that considerable uncertainty surrounded the outlook for commodity, freight and packaging costs. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has since unleashed more turmoil in the global commodity markets.

In 2018, when it had a market value of 1.6 billion euros, Ontex rejected a takeover offer from private equity firm PAI Partners as too low. Esther Berrozpe Galindo took over as the company’s chief executive officer at the start of 2021.

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