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Business

Deals flourish in sulfur chemicals

Veolia and Ineos to boost presence in industry with acquisitions

by Michael McCoy
August 8, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 32

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Credit: Calabrian
Calabrian operates this sulfur chemicals plant in Port Neches, Texas.
Credit: Calabrian
Calabrian operates this sulfur chemicals plant in Port Neches, Texas.

The normally quiet sulfur chemicals industry is seeing a flurry of merger and acquisition activity—and more may be in the offing.

Chemours has sold its sulfur products business to Veolia for about $325 million. And Ineos has agreed to acquire Calabrian, a U.S. sulfur chemicals specialist, from the private equity firm SK Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum.

Chemours sold its business, which makes sulfur chemicals and recycles spent sulfuric acid for the refining industry, as part of a slimming-down process that started after its spin-off from DuPont last year. Veolia, a French resource management firm, says the purchase expands its offerings to refining customers, which use sulfuric acid as an alkylation catalyst.

Ineos, meanwhile, is getting a business that has expanded considerably since 2011 when SK Capital injected cash into Calabrian. When Calabrian’s “production facility in eastern Canada comes on-line at yearend, Calabrian’s earnings will have tripled since our acquisition,” says SK Capital Managing Director Barry Siadat.

For Ineos, the business complements a sulfur chemicals facility in the U.K. and a sulfuric acid plant in northern Spain that it acquired in December 2015.

Ineos also is a shareholder in the U.S. inorganic chemicals maker PQ, which in May completed a merger with Eco Services, a former Solvay business that recycles spent sulfuric acid. Ineos declines to discuss whether the next step might be to merge its sulfur chemicals business with PQ, saying its current focus is on integrating Calabrian.

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