Supersize me: Helios wants to grow in Europe

Austria-based Ring International Holding acquired Slovenian paint manufacturer Helios in 2013. One headline entitled this "David takes over Goliath”. The takeover catapulted RIH into the top 10 paints and coatings manufacturers in Europe by turnover. The company now plans to keep climbing up the rankings by focusing more on additional niches.

The new Helios Group wants to grow in Europe. Source: Helios Group -

It is not unusual in the paints and coatings industry for a large company to buy a smaller one. But almost three years ago, the opposite occurred when Austria-based Ring International Holding (RIH) took over Helios. Back then, RIH’s turnover was EUR 220 million. Half of this – some EUR 110 million – came from the paints division, which sells its products under the brand name Rembrandtin. Its target – Slovenian paints manufacturer Helios – was three times as large, with turnover of EUR 350 million. The German “Wirtschaftsblatt” finance daily said at the time that it was a case of “David takes over Goliath” in the paints sector. The acquisition earned RIH the title “M&A Deal of the Year” in one of the three categories of 1 million to 1 billion USD. As Hubert Culik, CEO and board member of the Helios Group recalls, the first takeover plans were mooted in 2011. However, the CEO of Helios at the time, Uros Slavinec, was not interested and the conversation with Culik ended after just five minutes. But the deal went ahead in 2013.

A heavyweight in European coatings

Last year, RIH generated turnover of EUR 550 million. The company employs over 3,000 people and produces paints, coatings and office products in 21 locations. The takeover has made a coatings industry heavyweight out of the paints division, which is led by the new Helios Group and now ranks among the top-ten European paints manufacturers by turnover. In 2015, it enjoyed turnover of EUR 387 million. The paints group has approximately 2,000 employees spread across eleven production plants in eight countries. The company is active in all kinds of segments. Annually, the paints manufacturer produces more than 84,000 tonnes of wet coatings, approx. 65,000 tonnes of resins, 15,000 tonnes of powder coatings for industrial coatings and around 52,000 tonnes of decorative coatings. 

Industrial coatings (28%) and resins (20%) together account for almost half of turnover, while decorative paints (13%) and powder coating materials (12%) generate a quarter. The remaining 27% is spread over automotive refinishes, road marking paints, wood coatings, etc.

Europe remains both the target and the core market

“This acquisition has given us even greater access to the eastern European sales network,” says Culik. But it seems to be more important to him that Helios is vertically integrated, with its in-house developments and synthetic resins production. The CEO is convinced that having the raw materials knowledge in-house and the greater independence conferred by the resins production will pay off in the future. 

You can read the complete article about Helios, its strategies and goals in the October issue of the European Coatings Journal.

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