Blocher sells Atisholz

The Atisholz factory outside Solothurn Keystone Archive

One of Switzerland's richest men, Christoph Blocher, has sold the troubled Atisholz company, part of his Emesta Holding empire.

This content was published on September 4, 2002 - 13:55

The cellulose and yeast-manufacturing firm has been bought by the Norwegian food-to-media company, Orkla, for SFr130 million ($88.17 million).

Orkla's sub-division, Borregaard, bought Atisholz as part of its business plan to expand operations by opening or acquiring other cellulose manufacturing plants.

"The acquisition ... is in line with Borregaard's strategic plan to concentrate on global niche markets," said a spokesman for the Orkla group.

In a written statement, Blocher, who is the sole owner of the private investment company, Emesta Holding, said he had wanted Borregaard to buy Atisholz because the two firms had worked closely together in the past.

New property company

Under the terms of the buyout, Borregaard will own Atisholz's Solothurn-based factory and all its manufacturing equipment.

However, any other Atisholz-owned buildings will remain part of Emesta Holding. Blocher says he will set up a new property company to manage the leftover real estate.

The deal is far from finalised and official approval is still pending, but analysts predict the sale will go through in the autumn.

The right-wing politician bought Atisholz at the beginning of 2001, when the company was in the red.

Over the past 18 months Emesta Holding installed new managers, overhauled the research and development process and introduced improved sales and marketing techniques at a cost of SFr150 million.

Combined with various cost-cutting measures, the company is starting to bear fruit, posting SFr125 million turnover last year.

swissinfo with agencies

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