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Volume 87 Issue 41 | p. 14 | News of The Week
Issue Date: October 12, 2009

Kraton To Go Public

Materials firm plans to raise up to $230 million with initial public offering of stock.
Department: Business
Keywords: initial public offering, equity markets, private equity, polymers, synthetic rubber

In a sign that investors are looking kindly on the materials sector, Kraton Polymers filed documents last week with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering of stock. The company plans to raise up to $230 million from the IPO to pay down a portion of its $323 million in debt and to make capital expenditures.

Kraton spun off from Shell Chemicals in 2001 and is currently owned by the private equity firms TPG Capital and JPMorgan Partners. The company calls itself the inventor of styrenic block copolymers, which are elastomers used in products as diverse as disposable baby diapers and power tools with rubberized grips. In addition, its line of substitutes for natural rubber has grown rapidly since 2005.

In the SEC filing, Kraton reported 2008 sales of $1.2 billion and net income of $28.4 million. However, it reported net losses in 2006 and 2007. The Houston-based firm has 813 employees.

The timing of the offering is likely due to the current strength of equity markets, says Christopher D. Cerimele, global cohead of chemicals at advisory firm Lincoln International. “The sharp increase in the stock market, combined with continuing weakness in the mergers and acquisitions market, has made IPOs an attractive exit option for many private equity firms,” Cerimele says.

Third-quarter filings for IPOs outpaced filings for the first six months of 2009, he adds. But Kraton is an unusual case, he says, pointing out that there is “not a large number of private-equity-owned materials firms that are of a size and profile that would make them good IPO candidates.”

 
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