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AZ Plans Stock Offer

by Michael McCoy
October 11, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 41

AZ Electronic Materials plans to raise $400 million through an initial public offering (IPO) of stock on the London Stock Exchange. The specialty chemical maker started out as part of the German chemical company Hoechst, where in 1957 it developed the first positive photoresist for integrated-circuit manufacturing. In 1997, Hoechst sold AZ to Clariant. In 2004, Clariant sold the company to the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, for $415 million. AZ, which had sales in its last fiscal year of $611 million, says proceeds from the IPO will strengthen its ability to attract the best talent, help repay debt, and allow shareholders to realize part of their investment. AZ started pursuing an IPO in earnest in February when electronics industry veteran Geoff Wild was brought in as CEO, according to Mark Thirsk, managing partner of Linx Consulting, which follows the electronic materials industry. He expects a 20% stake in the company to be sold, creating an overall market value of $2 billion. Thirsk credits AZ’s private equity owners with shifting the firm’s focus from photoresists toward ancillary materials such as etch layers, topcoats, and antireflective coatings. “They got off the treadmill of developing leading-edge photoresists and developed a broader portfolio that has performed well,” he says.


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