Private equity firm SK Capital Partners has agreed to buy family-owned SI Group, a Schenectady, N.Y.-based maker of performance additives and intermediates. SK plans to combine SI Group with Addivant, an additives maker it purchased from Chemtura in 2013.
SI Group has more than $1 billion in annual sales of additives and intermediates used in the plastics, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and rubber industries. The firm operates 20 manufacturing facilities and employs over 2,800 people.
SK is acquiring SI Group from the descendants of W. Howard Wright, who founded the firm in 1906 to make insulation varnish for General Electric. SI has grown through investment and acquisition, including the 2014 purchase of Albemarle’s antioxidants and ibuprofen businesses in the U.S. and China. That transaction brought with it 500 employees. SK’s deal to buy SI Group is expected to close by the end of the year.
SK is buying the SI Group at a time when polymer additives in particular are in demand for their ability to improve plastics’ sustainability. But the transaction is also emblematic of a new approach to acquisitions among some private equity firms, to make strategic bolt on acquisitions just as big chemical companies do.
SK, run by ex-chemical industry executives such as Barry Siadat, are “not just here to shut down plants,” says Chris Cardinal, a mergers and acquisitions advisor at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “They’re interested in growing the business.”
Sectors which are highly concentrated, like industrial gases, aren’t ripe for the bolt on approach, Cardinal says. But sectors like plastic additives are, he says.