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Nalco Launches an IPO; Celanese Readies One

by Marc S. Reisch
November 15, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 46



As the global economy improves-and along with it, the financial prospects of chemical firms-private owners are taking the opportunity to cash in on their chemical assets.

Nalco-bought in November 2003 for $4.2 billion by the Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, and Apollo Management-last week raised almost $700 million with an initial public offering of stock at $15 per share. The owners will retain more than 60% of Nalco after the offering.

Seven months after completing the $3.8 billion buyout of Germany's Celanese, Blackstone has filed a preliminary prospectus with the Securities & Exchange Commission to raise $750 million in an IPO of some of its stock in the now U.S.-based firm. Blackstone hasn't set a date for the offering yet, but says that funds raised will go to paying itself a dividend and cutting Celanese debt.

Instead of waiting the typical three years or more to begin selling their positions in chemical assets, "investment bankers are being opportunistic," given the fairly strong demand for U.S. chemical stocks, says Michael Judd, an analyst at independent research firm Greenwich Consultants.

Other chemical firms have gone public or are soon expected to do so. In August, Westlake Chemical raised $160 million in an IPO. Huntsman Corp. has said it plans to file a registration statement with SEC before the end of the year. Another potential IPO is of BP's petrochemicals unit.


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