By STEPHEN MORRIS, KIEL PORTER and ANDREW NOEL
Rhone Capital is in advanced talks to acquire a German
chemical joint venture owned by Ashland and Clariant valued
at about 250 million euros ($344 million), according to
people with knowledge of the situation.
Rhone is the frontrunner in a sale process for ASK Chemicals
that began last year, said the people, who asked not to be
identified because details of the auction are private. Other
suitors have expressed an interest in the asset, which makes
foundry chemicals, and a decision is expected within days,
For the New York-based private equity firm, ASK is an
opportunity to break into a niche industry dominated by large
competitors including Vesuvius of the UK and Chinas
Shengquan Group. The Hilden, Germany based business has 20
production plants and 1,700 workers.
Covington, Kentucky-based Ashland formed the joint venture in
2010 with Sued Chemie, which got bought by Muttenz,
Switzerland-based Clariant in 2011 for about $2.5 billion.
Its resins and urethanes are used in filters, coatings and
castings including wood protection and preservatives.
Rhone has lined up loans to back the purchase from a group of
lenders, according to two of the people. The facility will
comprise two term loans, a capital expenditure portion and a
credit line, they said.
Spokespeople for Rhone, Clariant and Ashland declined to
comment on the deal. ASK didnt immediately respond to
telephone and email requests seeking comment on the purchase.