Neville Prior

Conditional Approval Granted to Evonik’s Acquisition of Huber Silica

Neville Prior  27 June 2017 01:57:16 PM
Image:Conditional Approval Granted to Evonik’s Acquisition of Huber Silica
The European Commission has conditionally approved Evonik A.G.'s acquisition of U.S.-based Huber Silica under the European Union Merger Regulation. The commission announced June 22 that the approval was conditional on the divestment of some of both companies' activities related to precipitated silica, a chemical used in tires, toothpaste, defoamers, paints and coatings. The commission's investigation concluded that the transaction raised competition concerns in the markets for precipitated silica for toothpaste and for defoamer applications; and hydrophobic precipitated silica, which is used in several products including defoamers, paints, coatings, food and feed additives.

To address the competition concerns, Evonik has been asked to divest its precipitated silica business for dental applications in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Huber Silica has been offered to divest its precipitated silica business for defoamer applications in the European Economic Area (EEA); and hydrophobic precipitated silica business in the EEA. Evonik announced in December the acquisition the silica business of U.S.-based JM Huber Corp. for $630 million, enabling it to expand its position in North America and Asia.

The firm said Huber Silica would significantly strengthen its resource efficiency growth segment and offers the opportunity to strategically develop Evonik's portfolio. At the time Evonik said it expected the transaction to be complete in the second half of 2017, subject to the approval of relevant authorities. JM Huber Corp. is one of the largest, family-owned businesses in the US with a broad product portfolio ranging from specialty chemicals to the forestry sector. Huber employs about 4,000 people in 20 countries. Based in Germany, Evonik is a global specialty chemical company that's active in more than 100 countries with 33,500 employees and nearly $14.2 billion in sales. The firm said it has a leading position as a supplier of silica for tire manufacturers and the paint and coatings industry. Evonik's silica products also are being applied as flow additives and carriers for the manufacture of foodstuffs, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and silicones.

Fecc Congress

Neville Prior  26 June 2017 11:58:00 AM
I am delighted to say that the latest Fecc Congress in Warsaw was a huge success. Many discussions about digitalisation. Please keep in mind the 2018 congress in Nice June 4th to 6th. Should be great!

Cornelius Twins Toilets

Neville Prior  26 June 2017 10:50:39 AM
Did you know that 1 in 3 people worldwide do not have a toilet! As a small part of our CSR efforts, we have "toilet twinned" with a latrine in Malawi, which will allow it to be made into a clean safe and sanitary facility. If anyone has a personal interest in doing this, then details can be found at www.toilettwinning.org

Is Cellulose the Answer to Eco-Friendly Microbeads?

Neville Prior  26 June 2017 10:35:50 AM
Scientists at the University of Bath have developed biodegradable microbeads from a sustainable source that could be a viable alternative to plastic microbeads.

Holland & Barrett Sold for £1.8bn to Russian billionaire

Neville Prior  26 June 2017 10:18:58 AM
Image:Holland & Barrett Sold for £1.8bn to Russian billionaire
Holland & Barrett, the UK's biggest health food retailer, is being bought by a Russian billionaire for £1.8bn. L1 Retail, a fund controlled by Mikhail Fridman, is buying the chain from US private equity firm Carlyle. Carlyle acquired Nuneaton-based Holland & Barrett as part of its $3.8bn (£3bn) purchase in 2010 of US firm Nature's Bounty, now NBTY. The chain, which has more than 1,300 stores worldwide, is expected to change hands in September.

Holland & Barrett was founded by William Holland and Alfred Barrett in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, in 1870. They initially sold groceries and clothing, but later split the two into separate businesses. The grocery business was sold to Alfred Button & Sons in the 1920s, but the original name was retained. The company eventually started focusing on health foods and changed hands several times. It now employs more than 4,000 people.

"Holland & Barrett is a clear market leader in the UK health and wellness retail market, with attractive growth positions in other European and international markets," said L1 Retail managing partner Stephan DuCharme.

"We believe that the company is well positioned to benefit from structural growth in the growing £10bn health and wellness market and has multiple levers for long-term growth and value creation."
               
The purchase is the first by L1 Retail, which was set up in late 2016. It aims to invest $3bn in a small number of retail businesses that it believes can be market leaders by "moving with and leading long-term trends". The fund's advisory board includes John Walden, the former chief executive of Home Retail Group. Other members are Karl-Heinz Holland, who was chief executive of Lidl Group, the German supermarket chain, and Clive Humby, one of the founders of dunnhumby, which came up with the idea for Tesco's Clubcard. L1 also has funds focused on energy, technology and health.

Peter Aldis, Holland & Barrett chief executive, is to stay on. He said: "We are delighted to now be in partnership with the L1 Retail team and its advisory board of internationally-renowned retailers." Mr Fridman is best known for his role as chief executive of BP's Russian joint venture TNK between 2003 and 2012, when it was sold to Rosneft for $56bn. Mervyn Davies, the former Standard Chartered chief executive who is now Lord Davies of Abersoch, is chairman of L1 Holdings.

Sherwin-Williams Completes Acquisition Of Valspar

Neville Prior  2 June 2017 08:05:12 PM
Image:Sherwin-Williams Completes Acquisition Of Valspar
The Sherwin-Williams Company has announced it has completed its acquisition of The Valspar Corporation. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Valspar shareholders will receive $113 per share in cash. In connection with completion of the transaction, Valspar common stock ceased trading prior to market opening today and will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

John G. Morikis, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sherwin-Williams, said, "We are pleased to complete this transaction, and I would like to officially welcome our new colleagues from Valspar and the tremendous talent they bring to Sherwin-Williams. The acquisition of Valspar accelerates Sherwin-Williams' global growth strategy and creates the global leader in paints and coatings. The combination of these two companies creates a world class brand portfolio, expanded product range, premier technology and innovation platforms and an extensive global footprint. These enhanced capabilities will benefit our customers and create sustainable long-term value for our shareholders."

With corporate headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, the combined company generated pro forma 2016 revenues of $15.8 billion and employs approximately 60,000 associates worldwide. It has a prominent market position in architectural paint in North America, South America, China, Australia and the UK. In industrial coatings, the combined company is a global market leader in packaging coatings, coil coatings, general industrial coatings and industrial wood coatings.

PPG CEO Remains Interested In ‘Consensual’ Deal With Akzo

Neville Prior  26 May 2017 10:57:50 AM
Image:PPG CEO Remains Interested In ‘Consensual’ Deal With Akzo
Akzo Nobel shareholders angered by the Dulux paint maker’s rejection of a 26.3 billion euro ($29.5 billion) takeover proposal from USA rival PPG Industries took their fight to an Amsterdam court on Monday.

The U.S. paint maker will challenge a June 1 deadline imposed by the Dutch regulator before which it has to make an offer for Akzo Nobel or walk away for six months, McGarry told reporters on Tuesday in Amsterdam, where the Dutch company is based.

But Michael McGarry, PPG’s chief executive, said: “PPG remains very interested in pursuing a privately negotiated, substantive deal with Akzo Nobel“. McGarry, who was present at the court hearing Monday, also said PPG asked Dutch financial markets regulator AFM to extend a formal offer filing deadline, which now stands at June 1.

Elliott, headquartered in NY, holds a stake of just over 3.0 percent in AkzoNobel but together with other shareholders in favour of the deal with PPG, claims more than 17 percent representation – enough to force a special shareholders’ meeting.

“What PPG wants is for Akzo to hold a proper discussion over the possible combination of both companies”, the lawyer said, also vehemently denying accusations of collusion between PPG and Elliott. That would be the highest offered in the Netherlands, Arnold Croiset van Uchelen, the lawyer representing the US firm, told the court.

De Groot said “the rapid way” in which AkzoNobel’s board had refused the request by Elliott and other shareholders for an extraordinary meeting was “unacceptable”. “That’s a vote of no confidence by itself”, an Elliot representative said.

The Dutch company’s plan to remain independent offers less value for investors and most shareholders are calling for a negotiation, he said. A ruling will be made after the market closes on May 29. At the hearing, he urged the Dutch company to listen to shareholders who are in favor of a deal. Dutch lawyers say it will be tough for the shareholders to convince judges that Akzo’s corporate governance has been so poor as to warrant an investigation.

“Shareholders can fire managers, but they can’t name the new ones”. If Akzo Nobel loses the court case and Burgmans is removed, the paintmaker could resort to using its poison pill measures to seek to reappoint him or someone sympathetic to his views on the offer.

Huntsman & Clariant to Combine

Neville Prior  22 May 2017 08:33:36 PM
Image:Huntsman & Clariant to Combine
Huntsman Corporation and Clariant have announced that their Boards of Directors unanimously approved a definitive agreement to combine in a merger of equals through an all-stock transaction. The merged company will be named HuntsmanClariant. On a pro forma 2016 basis, the combination of both companies will create a global specialty chemical company with sales of approximately $13.2 billion, an adjusted EBITDA of $2.3 billion and a combined enterprise value of approximately $20 billion at announcement.

The combined entity will benefit from each other's strengths. It will have a significantly improved growth profile in highly attractive end markets and geographies. HuntsmanClariant will leverage shared knowledge in sustainability and boast a much stronger joint innovation platform. This will enable the development of new products in order to deliver superior returns and drive shareholder value.

CEO Comments
"This is the perfect deal at the right time. Clariant and Huntsman are joining forces to gain much broader global reach, create more sustained innovation power and achieve new growth opportunities," said Hariolf Kottmann, CEO of Clariant. "This is in the best interest of all of our stakeholders. Peter Huntsman and I share the same strategic vision and I look forward to working with him."

Peter R. Huntsman, President and CEO of Huntsman, commented: "I could not be more enthusiastic about this merger and look forward to working closely with Hariolf Kottmann, a man I have admired and trusted for the past decade. We also look forward to a close association with his immensely talented colleagues around the world. Together, we will create a global leader in specialty chemicals with a combined balance sheet providing substantial financial strength and flexibility."

Transaction Highlights
        •        All-stock merger of equals transaction 
        •        Clariant shareholders: 52%, Huntsman shareholders: 48% 
        •        Huntsman shareholders receive 1.2196 shares in HuntsmanClariant for each Huntsman share (each existing Clariant share will remain outstanding as a share in HuntsmanClariant) 
        •        Board of Directors with equal representation from Clariant and Huntsman 
        •        Global Headquarters in Pratteln, Switzerland, Operational Headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas 
        •        Dual stock exchange direct listing on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange

Value Creation
The new company will accelerate value creation for shareholders through a more robust combination of technology, products and talent. The combined company expects to realize more than $3.5 billion of value creation from approximately $400 million in annual cost synergies. The full synergy run-rate will be achieved within two years of closing. These synergies will be realized by reducing operational costs and improving procurement. The targeted synergies represent roughly 3 percent of total combined 2016 revenue with one-time costs up to $500 million. There will also be additional cash-tax savings.

Corporate Governance
The combined company, incorporated in Switzerland, will be governed by a Board of Directors with equal representation from Clariant and Huntsman and will follow Swiss Corporate Governance standards. Hariolf Kottmann, current Clariant CEO, shall become Chairman of the Board of HuntsmanClariant. Peter Huntsman, current Huntsman President and CEO, will become CEO of HuntsmanClariant. Jon Huntsman, founder and Chairman of Huntsman, shall become Chairman Emeritus and board member of HuntsmanClariant. The merger enjoys strong commitment from both Clariant and Huntsman family shareholders. The company will be listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. HuntsmanClariant will use IFRS, and beginning in Q1 2018 will report in USD and will start filing 10Qs and 10Ks consistent with SEC requirements.

Timing
The transaction is targeted to close by year end 2017, subject to Clariant and Huntsman shareholder approvals, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Clariant and Huntsman are confident that the required regulatory approvals can be obtained in a timely manner.

Dow to Spend $4 Billion

Neville Prior  19 May 2017 01:40:24 PM
Image:Dow to Spend $4 Billion
Dow Chemical said Thursday it's planning to spend $4 billion in further expansions in the Houston area, at its Michigan headquarters and in Europe.

The chemical giant will keep expanding its largest industrial campus - south of Houston in Freeport and Lake Jackson - to continue taking advantage of cheap and abundant shale natural gas that's used as the primary feedstock to make chemicals and plastics. The expansion will give Freeport the world's largest plant for making ethylene, the primary building block of most plastics, Dow said.

Dow this year is completing a separate $6 billion expansion along the Gulf Coast, primarily in Freeport. That includes a "crown jewel" ethane cracker, which turns ethane, a natural gas liquid, into ethylene. The plant is expected to churn out 1.5 million metric tons of ethylene a year. The cracker project was completed in March, but won't commence operations for a few more weeks or so. The recent expansion added 500 permanent jobs in Freeport.

The upcoming Freeport expansion will add two heating furnaces to the cracker's existing eight furnaces, upping its total ethylene capacity to 2 million metric tons.

Dow also will build a new plastics plant to produce 600,000 metric tons a year, but hasn't announced whether it will be built in Freeport or Louisiana along the Gulf Coast. Dow will expand some its existing polyethylene facilities - polyethylene being the world's most common plastic - throughout to U.S. to increase its total capacity by 350,000 metric tons.

The company will invest $500 million by its Midland, Mich., headquarters for a new innovation centre and to boost its Dow Corning business.

Dow will build a plastics facility with a 450,000-ton capacity somewhere in Europe as well, although the details are scarce.

Dow plans to complete its $130 billion merger with DuPont of Wilmington, Del., in August. The merged DowDuPont would later splinter into three separate companies in 2018 and 2019. Dow CEO Andrew Liveris emphasized recently that Dow's Texas operations would see little effect from the merger. One of the three splintered companies, to be named Dow, would continue to own and run the Freeport complex, as well as DuPont's facilities in Orange near the Louisiana border. The materials science business would operate under the Dow name, the agribusiness under DuPont, and specialty products under a yet-to-be-determined brand.

Cristal Global Announces TiO₂ Price Increases

Neville Prior  17 May 2017 01:58:36 PM
Cristal announced that effective June 1, 2017, or as contracts allow, prices on all TiONA® titanium dioxide (TiO2) products will increase in the following regions. These increases are in addition to previously announced price increases.
·       In Eastern and Western Europe, including Turkey: Prices for all TiONA® titanium dioxide (TiO2) products will increase by €350 per metric ton and in Russia and CIS region by US$350 per metric ton.
·       In Latin America: Prices for all TiONA® titanium dioxide (TiO2) products will increase by US$250 per metric ton.
·      In the Middle East and Africa: Prices for all TiONA® titanium dioxide (TiO2) products will increase by US$250 per metric ton and €350 per metric ton in Euro priced markets.
·      In Asia Pacific: Prices for all TiONA® titanium dioxide (TiO2) products will increase by US$250 per metric ton.
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