Chemical firms spent $100 billion on mergers and acquisitions in 2018, up 56% from 2017 but far short of the $193 billion they spent in 2016, according to the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. The number of acquisitions was down 8% last year compared with 2017.
Overall, 2018 was a solid year for snapping up pricey assets, PwC says. Average deal size jumped 59% to $213 million. And a large number of acquisitions were priced above $1 billion. One likely reason for the big spend was the cut in US corporate tax rates, enacted in December 2017.
Largest 2018 acquisitions show specialties' global appeal.
|ANNOUNCED||BUYER, LOCATION||BUSINESS, LOCATION||DEAL VALUE ($ BILLIONS)|
|March||Carlyle Group, US||AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Netherlands||$12.6|
|May||Wanhua Chemical Group, China||Yantai Wanhua Chemical Industry, China||10.2|
|May||International Flavors & Fragrances, US||Frutarom Industries, Israel||6.4|
|July||Taiyo Nippon Sanso, Japan||Praxair Industrial gas business, Europe||5.8|
|July||UPL Corp, India||Arysta LifeScience, US||4.2|
BUYER, LOCATION: Carlyle Group, US
BUSINESS, LOCATION: AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Netherlands
DEAL VALUE ($ BILLIONS): $12.6
BUYER, LOCATION: Wanhua Chemical Group, China
BUSINESS, LOCATION: Yantai Wanhua Chemical Industry, China
DEAL VALUE ($ BILLIONS): 10.2
BUYER, LOCATION: International Flavors & Fragrances, US
BUSINESS, LOCATION: Frutarom Industries, Israel
DEAL VALUE ($ BILLIONS): 6.4
BUYER, LOCATION: Taiyo Nippon Sanso, Japan
BUSINESS, LOCATION: Praxair Industrial gas business, Europe
DEAL VALUE ($ BILLIONS): 5.8
BUYER, LOCATION: UPL Corp, India
BUSINESS, LOCATION: Arysta LifeScience, US
DEAL VALUE ($ BILLIONS): 4.2
The most popular businesses to buy were in specialty chemicals, including some worth more than $5 billion—what PwC classifies as megadeals. AkzoNobel sold its specialty chemical business to the private equity firm Carlyle Group for $12.6 billion in order to focus on its core paint business. In another example, US-based International Flavors & Fragrances agreed to pay $6.4 billion for Israel’s Frutarom. Frutarom had itself acquired a long list of smaller flavors firms in recent years.
Years of M&A is having an impact on the market, PwC says. “Consolidation in the specialty chemicals industry has reduced the overall pool of larger, high-quality targets,” the firm notes. That has caused prices of businesses for sale to go up, particularly as private equity firms have also gained a taste for specialty chemical businesses.
Even sectors that are normally the purview of large, R&D-intensive chemical corporations are ripe for acquisitions these days, PwC says. They include nutrition ingredients, plastics compounding, coatings, adhesives, and specialty materials.
By the fourth quarter, trade disputes had put a damper on deal values, which were down 65% compared with the same quarter in 2017. But PwC anticipates upbeat deal activity this year as specialty chemical businesses continue to be popular with buyers. The specter of slowing economic growth will only fan the acquisition flames, PwC says, as companies look outside their current businesses to boost sales.