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Mergers & Acquisitions

Chemical deals finalized as year ends

Ineos, Suez, SK Capital among firms that doubled down on existing markets

by Melody M. Bomgardner
January 6, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 2


This photo shows BP's Cooper River plant in South Carolina.
Credit: BP
Ineos is the new owner of BP's Cooper River plant in South Carolina.

Several chemical deals struck in 2020 have officially wrapped up. Merger and acquisition activity was slower than normal thanks to the pandemic, but some firms found ways to expand their core businesses.

Ineos bought two petrochemical businesses from large oil companies. It snapped up BP’s aromatics and acetyls division, which makes the polyester raw material purified terephthalic acid, for $5 billion, and it paid $400 million for full ownership of its Gemini polyethylene joint venture with Sasol.

Lanxess sold its reverse osmosis membrane business to France’s Suez. The deal will help Suez grow its water treatment business and Lanxess to invest in its ion-exchange resin business.

And Huntsman says it will invest in future growth with $100 million raised from the sale of shares in Venator, its former titanium dioxide business, to the private equity firm SK Capital Partners. SK has an option to buy the rest of Huntsman’s Venator shares.

Dealmaking may pick up this year, according to the consulting firm Kearney. But acquiring companies will continue to be risk averse and focus on consolidation, rather than moves into new fields or geographies.

The first large deal to close this year may be International Flavors & Fragrances’ $26.2 billion purchase of DuPont’s nutrition and industrial biosciences division. IFF will gain new ingredients, such as proteins, texturants, and emulsifiers, to sell to its existing customers.


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