Clariant, Sabic tighten knot, form High Performance Materials business

M&A handshakeChemicals company Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) today announced an updated strategy and financial outlook as well as the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Sabic (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). The two companies will merge their high-performance materials businesses, and Clariant will propose at an extraordinary general meeting on Oct. 16, 2018, to expand its board of directors from the current 10 to 12, four of whom will be nominated by Sabic.

The intended combination of Clariant’s additives and high-value masterbatches (color, high-temperature resins and healthcare) and parts of Sabic’s specialties business will create a uniquely positioned provider of customer-specific, high-performance materials and solutions under the name High Performance Materials, said a press release issued by the companies.

The new business area will offer customer-specific application know-how in high-performance thermoplastics for thermo-electro-optical and mechanical environments, specialty additives and masterbatches in tandem with an outstanding global compounding platform, said the companies. Major applications include smart electronics, healthcare, aerospace, automotive, robotics, additive manufacturing, renewable energy and e-mobility.

Clariant also announced that it would divest its pigments, standard masterbatches and medical specialties businesses by 2020. Although these businesses were “well positioned” and “increased profitability” over the years, Clariant said they do not align with the group’s strategy focusing on innovation in higher growth and higher profitability segments. 

At the general meeting in October, Clariant CEO Hariolf Kottmann will be nominated as the new Chairman of the Board, succeeding Rudolf Wehrli. Sabic’s current Specialties Executive Vice President Ernesto Occhiello will be appointed CEO of Clariant, effective October 16, 2018.

Reporting on today’s announcement, Reuters writes that the new joint venture and governance accord marks the first concrete signs of how “Sabic’s arrival as a white knight in January is reshaping the speciality chemicals group that U.S. activists had targeted. The partners had agreed that Sabic would not take over Clariant but could boost the 24.99% stake it bought from the activists to rescue Clariant from a hostile takeover threat, Kottmann told a news conference.”

Reuters reported in June that Sabic, the world’s fourth-largest chemicals maker, was considering increasing its holding in Clariant and pursuing joint ventures.

By 2021, the group aims to generate annual sales of around 9 billion Swiss francs ($9.36 billion), compared with 6.38 billion in 2017, and a margin on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of around 20%, added Reuters.

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