Takeover Titan Samuel Heyman Dead At 70 | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: November 9, 2009

Takeover Titan Samuel Heyman Dead At 70

Obituary: Well-known corporate raider in the chemicals sector passes away after open heart surgery
Department: Business
Keywords: Samuel Heyman, ISP, GAF
Samuel J. Heyman, Chairman, ISP
Credit: International Specialty Products
Samuel J. Heyman, Chairman, ISP
Credit: International Specialty Products

Samuel J. Heyman, chairman of both International Specialty Products and roofing materials maker GAF, died after complications following open heart surgery. He was 70 years old.

Heyman is best known for the successful 1983 takeover of then chemical giant GAF for about $1.5 billion. Within the chemical industry, he is also well known for his many other takeover attempts against chemical makers. They did not always succeed, but they often netted Heyman millions of dollars.

His most notable unsuccessful takeover attempt was the one he launched against plastics and chemicals maker Union Carbide in 1985 after the Bhopal disaster weakened the industry giant. He also unsuccessfully tried to take over Hercules in 2001 as the specialty chemicals maker came close to going bankrupt.

The takeover titan graduated from Yale University in 1960 and from Harvard Law School in 1964. He first went to work as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice during the Kennedy Administration. Following the death of his father in 1968, he took over the family real estate firm.

Heyman earned his credentials as a corporate raider when he led a group of investors in a hostile bid for GAF. In the early 1980s, GAF's operations included chemicals, roofing products, and a classical radio station. Unlike other corporate raiders of the day, such as Carl Icahn, Heyman took control of the company. At GAF, he cut costs and eventually split the chemicals segment off as International Specialty Products, or ISP. The roofing materials business remains known as GAF.

Other takeover attempts Heyman launched but did not win included one in 1988 against carbon black maker Cabot. In 2000, he made an unsuccessful play for specialty materials maker Dexter.

Heyman was also known for his philanthropic efforts. He provided fellowships to law students at schools such as Harvard University, Seton Hall University, and Yale to encourage the pursuit of careers in public service. He also established the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Center on Corporate Governance at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

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