ICI has agreed to sell its flavours and fragrance business, Quest, to Givaudan for GBP1.2bn (US$2.3bn).

The sale is subject to approval by ICI shareholders, regulatory approval and employee consultation. ICI said it hopes to close the deal during the first quarter of 2007.

In 2005, Quest posted sales of GBP560m and profits of GBP52m. The group is based in the Netherlands and has operations in the US, Asia and Europe.

Commenting on the sale, Quest chief executive Charles Knott said: “This is an outstanding opportunity for Quest, joining the highly creative, most respected and profitable business in our industry and the clear market leader. 

“The combined businesses provide a powerful innovation platform and we are delighted about the extra value we will be able to offer to you in the future. Through this deal we will be in a position to better leverage our joint capabilities in the areas of consumer and sensory understanding, technology and science.”