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BIC Group Acquires Cello Pens

BIC Group, parent company of Top 40 supplier BIC Graphic (asi/40480), has purchased a complete equity stake of Indian writing instruments company Cello Pens. BIC previously held a 75% stake in the company, and purchased the remaining 25% for $81.2 million.

“Moving to 100% ownership in Cello Pens is an opportunity to reinforce our position as India’s number-one writing instrument brand and to further BIC’s development in Asia,” said Bruno Bich, chairman of the board for BIC Group. “We are confident in Cello Pens’ multicultural management team's abilities to leverage the strong asset that is the Cello brand, driving toward strong mid- and long-term growth potential.”

BIC had originally purchased 40% of six of Cello’s seven entities in March 2009 for $77 million. In the agreement, the supplier had the option to increase its stake in future years based on a formula tied to Cello’s earnings. But a year after the purchase, Cello proposed terminating the agreement, and BIC took the company to international arbitration. After arbitration, BIC was able to purchase a stake in the last entity and then used its first option in 2013 to increase its stake to 55% in all entities, and then to 75% in 2014.

For 2014, BIC reported that Cello Pens generated 77.6 million euros ($85.1 million) in net sales. Through nine months of 2015, BIC said Cello Pens’s net sales had decreased by a low single-digit percentage.

BIC Graphic is the fourth-largest supplier in the industry as ranked in Counselor’s State of the Industry Top 40 list. Parent company BIC Group reported an increase of 5.8% in net sales through nine months of 2015.