Esmalglass-Itaca Group acquires Ferro to create a billion-euro giant


The closing of the transaction is expected by the summer. With the acquisition of Ferro’s Tile Coatings Business, Esmalglass will become the world leader in the ceramic glazes, inks and colours sector.

Vicente Bagán

In an operation worth $460 million in cash with potential for an additional $32 million in cash based on the performance of the business pre-closing, the Spanish multinational Esmalglass-Itaca Group (owned by US-based Lone Star Funds) signed an agreement in December to acquire the Tile Coatings Business of Ferro Corporation. Given the value of the transaction and the size of the two players, this is without question the most important operation ever completed in the history of the ceramic colour and glaze industry. Closing is expected no earlier than the summer and is subject to approval from the European competition authorities.

Esmalglass-Itaca, which also acquired Fritta in 2015, is set to become the unchallenged world leader in the ceramic colour and glaze sector with a turnover of around a billion euros. The Villarreal-based group has 1,650 employees and around twenty production units in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, China and Thailand and in 2018 posted revenue of 470 million euros. Ferro’s Tile Coatings Business has a similar turnover with annual sales of $510 million for the year ended 30 September 2019.

For Ferro Corporation, one of the world’s largest suppliers of colours and glazes for ceramics, glass and metal, the sale of the Tile Coatings Business is part of a strategy of focusing on more profitable higher-growth industries so as to achieve a more equal balance between Europe and the rest of the world with less exposure to construction markets.

For  Esmalglass-Itaca Group, the future incorporation of Ferro will pave the way to the development of major synergies in research, innovation and services, potentially resulting in a reduction of costs to be passed on to the market. As the Spanish group’s co-CEO Vicente Bagán explained, the goal is to achieve greater competitiveness and create value for customers in a sector that is set to undergo major consolidation and evolution over the next few years with an increasing focus on maximum efficiency. This development process will be boosted by the high degree of complementarity between the two businesses and the high level of quality of their products, technologies and plants and the specialisation of their teams. According to initial statements, Lone Star intends to keep the two businesses independent and clearly differentiated to enable both of them to play to their strengths.