Issue Date: August 11, 2014
Fine Chemicals: Transatlantic acquisition unites two major manufacturers of phosgene
The largest U.S. merchant manufacturer of phosgene, VanDeMark Chemical, has acquired Framochem, a Hungarian firm that is one of Europe’s leading makers of phosgene products. The purchase, for an undisclosed sum, reunites two companies that were previously owned by SNPE, the French state-owned chemical concern.
Although extremely hazardous to manufacture and transport, phosgene, COCI2, is a toxic yet critical raw material for many pharmaceutical, agricultural, and specialty chemical products. The deal will combine two of just a handful of merchant producers to create a company with 22,000 tons of annual capacity.
SNPE was a major phosgene manufacturer until a 2001 explosion near its French plant forced the firm to shut the site down. SNPE sold VanDeMark, based in Lockport, N.Y., to the private equity firm Buckingham Capital Partners in 2007. It then divested the rest of its fine chemicals business, including Framochem, to a German investment firm in 2010. Buckingham sold VanDeMark to another private equity firm, Uni-World, in 2012.
Bringing the two firms back together will expand VanDeMark geographically, while adding a phosgene chemicals catalog to its custom manufacturing business, says VanDeMark CEO Michael Kucharski. “All of which makes a compelling, single-source offering for our customers for phosgene products worldwide,” he adds.
Many chemical companies, especially producers of isocyanates, manufacture large quantities of phosgene for captive use. But very few offer the chemical on the merchant market, explains fine chemicals consultant Jan Ramakers.
VanDeMark was seeking growth through acquisition, Ramakers notes, and had little choice other than to buy its former sister company. The deal creates a dominant provider of an important chemical, he says.
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