U.S. conglomerate Huber buys Italian fertiliser maker Biolchim

MILAN, Aug 8 (Reuters) - U.S. family-owned conglomerate J.M. Huber Corp. has clinched a binding agreement to buy Italian fertiliser maker Biolchim from NB Renaissance and Chequers Capital, the two private equity firms said on Monday.

The deal, whose value a source close to the transaction put at around 600 million euros ($610 million), comes at time when global fertiliser prices are sky-high due to worries that the conflict between major exporters Russia and Ukraine could lead to food shortages.

Under NB Renaissance and Chequers, which took over Biolchim in 2016, the company has doubled in size, with revenue close to 140 million euros in 2021 and core profits at 33 million euros, the firms said. Biolchim has recorded double-digit growth also in 2022.

Under the agreement, current Biolchim Chief Executive Leonardo Valenti, in the role since 2008, will continue leading the company.

Bologna-based Biolchim, which sells its products in over 70 countries, specialises in the production of biostimulants to improve crops.

"Biolchim ... and Huber AgroSolutions ... have complementary commercial and product offerings, as well as industry-leading technologies and research capacities," Valenti said in the statement.

"The agreement will open up new growth ambitions and will position us as a leading player in specialty nutrition globally."

Over the past five years Biolchim has expanded internationally developing its sales structure abroad and opening subsidiaries in central and south America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand.

Huber is a 139-year old family business managing a portfolio of companies that comprises CP Kelco, Huber Engineered Materials, Huber Engineered Woods and Huber Resources.

It has more than 4,000 employees in 20 countries and $3 billion in annual revenue.($1 = 0.9829 euros) (Reporting by Valentina Za and Elvira Pollina; Editing by Louise Heavens)