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Specialty Chemicals

Lanxess to acquire IFF’s biocide business

Purchase, for $1.3 billion, adds former Dow products to a growing antimicrobials line

by Michael McCoy
August 26, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 31

A photo of a person looking at bacterial cultures through a microscope.
Credit: Lanxess
The IFF operation will add to an already-large antimicrobial business at Lanxess.

Lanxess will scoop up yet one more player in the biocides industry with an agreement to buy International Flavors & Fragrance’s microbial control business for about $1.3 billion.

With the purchase, expected to be completed by mid-2022, Lanxess will get a producer of glutaraldehyde, a biocide used in preservative applications such as paints, home and person care products, and oil and gas drilling. The business also markets isothiazolinone-based antimicrobials. It has plants in West Virginia and Louisiana and annual sales of about $450 million.

The business Lanxess is buying was once part of Dow, but it joined DuPont during the merger and subsequent split-up of Dow and DuPont. Early this year it went to IFF as part of DuPont’s sale of its nutrition and biosciences division. In a conference call with stock analysts, Lanxess CEO Matthias Zachert said the business suffered through the ownership changes and the pandemic. “There was market share loss in 2020,” he said.

Zachert’s plan is to revive the business as part of a company dedicated to microbial control. Whereas DuPont/IFF focused on making raw materials and used contractors to formulate finished products, Zachert says Lanxess will bring finishing in-house to a network of formulation facilities it has built up in recent years.

Lanxess and its former parent Bayer have marketed microbial control chemicals for decades. Its Preventol phenolic products date back to 1932.

The firm started consolidating in the field in 2016 with its purchase of Chemours’ Virkon potassium monopersulfate business. Early this year Lanxess bought the French disinfectant makers Intace and Theseo. Then in February it announced the $1.1 billion purchase of US-based Emerald Kalama Chemical and its business in benzoate food and feed preservatives.

George A. Ganzer, a biocide industry veteran who now runs Gee Consulting, says this latest acquisition will make Lanxess a biocide industry leader, if not the leader. Notably, the former Dow products will boost its offerings for industrial water treatment, he says. “They’re becoming an important player in the biocides market,” Ganzer says of Lanxess. “I think it’s a good move.”



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