"In 2021 alone, we completed eight acquisitions, expanding our footprint to new markets, including Food and Specialty Agri/Horti in Korea, as well as enhancing our presence in existing countries – with four acquisitions in China."
Azelis started trading on the Brussels Stock Exchange. What was the market’s reception?
Azelis was the third-largest IPO on Euronext Brussels. Our IPO was oversubscribed and completed at a very good initial price, and we are proud to see that our story was compelling to investors. As a public company, Azelis gained wider access to funding that will support our long-term growth. Azelis closed the 2021 financial year with a revenue of €2.8 billion, a 27.2% year-on-year growth, and 41% adjusted EBITA.
Azelis calls its approach across different market applications the “lateral value chain” (LVC). How has Azelis’ LVC portfolio evolved in the past six years in Asia Pacific?
Since we first set up our Asia Pacific HQ in Singapore in 2016, our LVC portfolio grew exponentially. Just in the last two years, we signed agreements with over 20 global partners, including CP Kelco, Roquette, BASF, and Merck, as well as completed 15 acquisitions from 2017-2021. We aim to leverage our global network of principals to represent them in as many geographies and markets as possible, while also providing our local customers with the best of specialty chemicals and food ingredients. In Singapore, Azelis recently invested SG$1 million into our newly inaugurated Regional Innovation Center for Food and Health. With this new facility, Azelis will tap into Singapore’s rich food ecosystem and connect our ingredients expertise with market needs across the region.
Azelis has completed 15 acquisitions in Asia Pacific in the last five years. What drives your M&A strategy and what kind of targets are you looking for?
Our M&As are part of our group strategy to accelerate growth in the region and complete the LVC in each of our strategic markets. In 2021 alone, we completed eight acquisitions, expanding our footprint to new markets, including Food and Specialty Agri/Horti in Korea, as well as enhancing our presence in existing countries – with four acquisitions in China in 2020 and 2021. We started 2022 strong with the acquisition of Catalite in Thailand for Personal Care. Across Asia Pacific, we now have a presence in 12 countries.
We actively search for the right acquisition candidate across three criteria: geography, market segment, and shared corporate values. We look for companies who can bring additional value through technical expertise, formulation and application development, but beyond the commercial fit, we want to make sure we deal with people with the same passion for innovation, sustainability, and digitalization.
Azelis was awarded the Platinum certificate by EcoVadis. Could you comment on this milestone and elaborate on your “Action 2025” sustainability strategy?
The EcoVadis Platinum certification puts us in the top 1% of companies assessed globally and is a mark of our commitment to sustainability. Our sustainability strategy ‘Action 2025’ encompasses four pillars - people, products & innovation, governance, and the environment, all of which we monitor closely across various KPIs. In terms of people, diversity is a big focus, and we have built this into the foundations of our growth in the region. Today, more than 30% of our leaders in Asia Pacific are women and we want to continue to improve this ratio. Regarding products, we are actively reviewing our portfolio to identify sustainable formulations and products. To improve governance, Azelis is part of Together for Sustainability (TfS), which we use for the assessment of our suppliers.
Could you share what are the different types of digital platforms you provide for different stakeholders?
Our digital strategy has allowed us to keep a closer, real-time connection with customers and principals. Each month, new countries and markets are covered by our customer portals, which have been rolled out constantly since 2020. We also use our customer platform to showcase our product know-how and promote sustainable ingredients. Last year, we also launched the e-Lab, a new concept through which we open the door to customers to get even closer to the science behind our formulations. The e-Lab is interactive, and customers can get specific questions answered, co-create with our technical experts, and design customizable formulations. The e-Lab is a direct gate into our physical lab, and the products created digitally are sent to our physical labs. Finally, Azelis has launched a third type of portal, this time dedicated to our principals.
Do you have a final message?
We don’t just want to be a partner for principals and customers, but also we strive to be the best employer. People underpin everything we do at Azelis and nothing would have been possible without our team. I am grateful to the Azelis Asia Pacific team and everything I have learned from them.