GENEVA — A planned acquisition and a distribution deal should allow Firmenich, a privately-owned company in the fragrance and flavor business, to expand its influence on the global flavors market, particularly high-intensity sweeteners.

The Geneva-based company on Sept. 17 said it has agreed to acquire Senomyx, Inc., a company that uses proprietary taste science technologies to discover, develop and commercialize novel flavor ingredients and natural high-intensity sweeteners for the food, beverage and ingredient supply industries.

The announcement came after Layn Natural Ingredients on Sept. 14 reported it had entered a strategic agreement with Firmenich.

Firmenich will acquire all the outstanding common stock of Senomyx, Inc. for $1.50 per share in cash, which represents a premium of about 43% over Senomyx’s closing price on Sept. 14 and a premium of about 39% based on the prior 30-trading day volume-weighted average price. Senomyx on July 26 had 48,338,277 total shares of common stock outstanding. The boards of directors for both companies unanimously approved the transaction, which should close in the fourth quarter.

“Senomyx has established itself as a leader in taste innovation and a recognized pioneer in sweet, cooling and bitter solutions,” said Patrick Firmenich, chairman of the board for Firmenich. “Building on our long-term partnership spanning more than a decade, we look forward to welcoming Senomyx into Firmenich to lead in taste and nutrition.”

San Diego-based Senomyx will be integrated into Firmenich's North America research and development organization. Senomyx research and development operations will remain in San Diego.

Senomyx discovers novel flavor ingredients and natural high-intensity sweeteners. Under its direct sales program, Senomyx sells its Complimyx brand flavor ingredients, Sweetmyx, Savorymyx and Bittermyx, to flavor companies for use in foods and beverages. Senomyx also has partnerships with global food, beverage and ingredient supply companies. Senomyx recently identified and has started to develop a high-intensity sweetener, siratose, which naturally occurs in monk fruit.

Senomyx reported a net loss of $3.6 million and total revenues of $3.3 million in the second quarter ended June 30. The company had no debt and $14.7 million in cash on that date.

Layn said its agreement with Firmenich significantly will increase Layn’s distribution reach and provide access to some of the best formulation expertise globally to further develop Layn’s sweetener portfolio. Layn offers a portfolio of monk fruit, stevia extracts and other functional botanicals.

“We are delighted to partner with Firmenich and to build on their expertise and scale to amplify our market coverage worldwide,” said Ben Jun Qin, chairman of Layn Natural Ingredients Corp. which has a U.S. office in Newport Beach, Calif. “This agreement will allow Layn to better serve our existing customers and reach many new ones, allowing us to invest more in agronomy and in the extraction of high-performance natural ingredients.”

Gilbert Ghostine, chief executive officer of Firmenich, said, “With this game-changing partnership, Firmenich will have access to the broadest range of natural sweeteners in the industry. It is consistent with our vision to constantly strengthen our leadership and capabilities in taste to best support our customers in shaping natural and healthier products for consumers to enjoy.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Layn will continue to service its existing clients for the duration of those commitments while Firmenich becomes the exclusive distributor of Layn’s natural sweetener ingredients for all international markets outside of China and for its key customers in China.

Firmenich will combine Layn’s natural sweetener ingredients with its taste modulation technologies and flavors to create integrated taste solutions that achieve a sugar-like sweetness profile and mouthfeel. The two companies will work together to ensure the widest market coverage and best service in the growing market for natural, healthy products.