Swiss precious metals refiner Argor-Heraeus SA is renowned all over the world for the exceedingly high quality of its gold, silver, platinum, and palladium products. The firm upholds Switzerland's reputation for mastery over the gold refining process while also being one of the leading innovators in new security measures for its products.
Now, the company's ownership group has decided it's time to sell.
Argor is actually jointly owned by four groups: Germany's second-largest bank, Commerzbank AG (CBK); German multinational corporation Heraeus; the Austrian Mint, the state mint of Austria; and the management team at Argor-Heraeus. The firm will begin the process of finding a buyer with the assistance of HSBC.
Argor has been in business for 65 years and has firmly established itself as one of the "Big Four" Swiss refiners along with Metalor, PAMP Suisse, and Valcambi. It is one of the few refiners that is a full member of the prestigious London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). It also enjoys membership in the LBMA Good Delivery referee panel, a body that helps set standards for metal refiners around the world. If indeed Argor-Heraeus is sold, it will make the third out of these four industry giants mentioned above to have accepted a takeover bid in a span of less than 18 months.
The list of companies who are potentially interested in purchasing Argor is rather extensive at this early stage in the bidding process. PAMP could create one of the largest precious metals refining empires in the world if it places the winning bid. Moreover, the two refiners have operations just two kilometers apart in southern Switzerland. Another interesting possibility would be if Switzerland-based bank UBS, which sold its stake in Argor-Heraeus back in 1999, decides to get involved in the bidding.
Another key player in the bid for Argor-Heraeus could be Asahi Refining. The Japanese firm not only has a presence all over the globe but is also no stranger to such acquisitions: Asahi bought the famous precious metal brand Johnson Matthey last spring. Another Japanese refiner, Tanaka Precious Metals Group, purchased Metalor earlier this past July.
Perhaps the most likely buyer according to gold market insiders, however, is the private-equity firm WRM CapInvest. The company is headquartered in London but owned and operated primarily by Italian investors with a track record in the gold refining industry. Considering that Argor is located near Switzerland's border with Italy, this connection could prove an important selling point.
One of the hallmarks that make Argor stand out is its commitment to cutting-edge technology in the art of gold refining. In addition to offering convenient gram-sized gold bars through its MultiCard products, the company boasts its signature KineBar (shown above) that combines extra-pure .9999 fine gold with a stunning hologram that serves as an anti-counterfeiting measure.
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.