DSM has agreed to sell its protective materials business, maker of Dyneema ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fibers, to the US plastics compounder Avient for nearly $1.5 billion.
DSM calls Dyneema the world’s strongest fiber and claims that it is 15 times stronger than steel. The fiber, which DSM developed in the 1960s, is found in bulletproof vests, fishing gear, rope, and other demanding applications. The company expects the business to generate earnings before taxes of $130 million this year on sales of $415 million.
DSM put the business up for sale in September, along with its much larger engineering polymers unit, which has a strong position in specialty nylon resins. Together the businesses had about $2.1 billion in sales in 2021. DSM, which has yet to find a buyer for the engineering polymers unit, wants to focus exclusively on health, nutrition, and biosciences. It sold its coatings resins business to Covestro last year.
Jefferies Group stock analyst Chris Counihan, says DSM should have the financial strength to conduct more than $7 billion in acquisitions in the nutrition field after it sells the engineering polymers business.
In addition to buying the DSM unit, Avient, formerly known as PolyOne, is putting its polymer distribution business up for sale. It has annual sales of about $1.6 billion, more than a third of Avient’s total. In 2020, Avient purchased Clariant’s plastics colorants business for $1.4 billion.
Avient aims to combine the DSM unit with its own composites operation to create a franchise with $680 million in annual sales. “For 10 years, we have been building our advanced composites platform by focusing on high-performance materials for applications where failure is not an option,” Avient CEO Robert M. Patterson, says in an announcement.
This story was updated on April 21, 2022, to indicate that DSM's materials businesses had combined annual sales of $2.1 billion in 2021, not 2020.