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South Korea's Honam Makes Malaysian Buy

Purchase of Titan Chemicals is Korean firm's first big foreign move

by Jean-François Tremblay
July 21, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 30

Credit: Titan Chemicals
Titan owns this petrochemical complex in Malaysia's Johor state.
Credit: Titan Chemicals
Titan owns this petrochemical complex in Malaysia's Johor state.

After spending years growing by acquiring its domestic rivals, South Korea's second-largest petrochemical producer, Honam Petrochemical, is setting its sights abroad with a plan to acquire Malaysia's Titan Chemicals.

Titan's two largest shareholders, the Chao Group and the financial group PNB, have agreed to sell their 72% stake to Honam for $917 million. The South Korean giant will now extend the same per-share offer to other shareholders of publicly listed Titan in a deal that values it at $1.3 billion.

A large company by Malaysian standards, Titan is small within the global petrochemical industry, with a net profit of $165 million on sales of $1.75 billion last year. A producer of olefins, polyolefins, and aromatics, it operates two ethylene crackers with a combined annual capacity of 1.1 million metric tons. Most of the company's facilities are in Malaysia, but it also owns some plants in Indonesia due to its 2006 acquisition of the polyethylene producer Petrokimia.

With sales of $4.9 billion in 2009, Honam has in recent years grown by acquisition and by extending its product range to engineering plastics. In January 2009, it bought Lotte Daesan Petrochemical, a competing chemical maker that was majority owned by the Lotte Group. In 2004, it bought KP Chemicals, another South Korean member of the Lotte Group. Before that, Honam acquired a large petrochemical complex from the Hyundai Group.

Honam says it is also looking at building or acquiring facilities in China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the former Soviet Union.


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