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Huntsman to Go Public with Equity Offering

by Alexander H. Tullo
September 20, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 38


The longtime flagship of privately held chemical companies is going public. Last week, Huntsman Corp. announced it is planning an initial public offering of common stock.

The company is so far releasing few details. It is planning to file a registration statement with the Securities & Exchange Commission in the fourth quarter.

Huntsman says existing shareholders will participate in the offering and that proceeds, the amount so far unknown, will go to pay down debt. As of the end of June, HMP Equity Holdings, which serves as the holding corporation for various Huntsman companies, had long-term debt totaling nearly $6 billion.

The announcement of the IPO is hardly a surprise. Since February, the company had been hinting at an upcoming "liquidity event" that would allow it to shed some of the debt it took on with its purchase of ICI's commodity chemicals business. It has already sold equity to private investors. In 2002, for example, it swapped about $775 million in debt for a 49% stake by Marlin Patterson Global Opportunities Partners.

In the wake of the economic upturn, the chemical industry has been rife with potential IPOs. Last month, Westlake Chemical raised about $160 million in a stock offering.

Planned IPOs include Celanese, Nalco Chemical, Texas Petrochemicals, and Bayer's Lanxess unit. Other potential IPOs include BP's olefins unit and the Basell polyolefins joint venture between Shell Chemicals and BASF. However, the Basell partners are reportedly receiving bids from private-equity firms, including a partnership of Apollo Management and Blackstone Group.


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