ICE Pharma
Country Italy
Sector Healthcare
Deal type Buyout
Investment date September 2019
Status Unrealized investment

ICE Pharma is the world’s leading manufacturer of specialty biliary acid products including ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) – an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) used in the manufacture of drugs to treat liver and other gastroenterological diseases. Headquartered in Northern Italy, the company sources natural (predominantly animal based) ingredients around the world and converts it into pharma-grade specialty ingredients for large pharmaceutical clients. 

The company achieved total revenues of c.€225million in 2020 and employs more than 1,200 people across its main production centers in Italy, India and Brazil, and New Zealand, as well as satellite sites throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia.


Established in 1949 by the Bartoli family, ICE Pharma had achieved strong global market presence by the time of Advent’s buyout in September 2019. The company operates an integrated business model, with a presence across the vertical value chain from the collection of raw materials to processing and sales to a global customer base. 

Advent saw in ICE an opportunity to enter an attractive market that straddles pharmaceuticals and chemicals, two sectors in which Advent has long experience. Underlying market growth is driven by the increasing prevalence of liver and other gastro conditions caused by ageing populations and other lifestyle factors.  


The investment team comprises professionals from Advent offices in London, Germany and Italy and drew on significant external expertise from across the network in the shape of Industry Advisors Abhijit Mukherjee (ex-COO, Dr Reddy) and Nick Haggar (CEO, Zentiva) and Operating Partner Hanspeter Spek (ex-CEO, Sanofi). 

Advent has worked to transform the family business into a global leader with world-class management and institutionalized systems and processes. Working alongside Advent, the company has also optimized its supply chain, negotiating a significantly reduced price on raw materials.

Further, research and development capabilities have been augmented with the bolt-on acquisition of New Zealand Pharmaceuticals in August 2020. The acquisition is helping to strengthen the commercial prospects of by-products that are produced in the refinement of cholic acid. 

Advent’s aim is to facilitate continued growth by taking a more structured approach to procurement, increasing revenue from existing products and bringing forward new products from the pipeline.


Under Advent’s guidance, ICE has developed robust environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policies. The Group’s products are compliant with Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), and an integrated tracking system guarantees traceability of all animal-derived materials.

Over the five years to 2020, CO2 emissions were lowered by 20%, power consumption was reduced by 40%, and 50% less fresh water was used across ICE sites. A plan is now under way to monitor these and other key indicators across the organization to further improve sustainability. 

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