October’s top stories: Interest in €10bn Bayer unit, Platform Specialty-Arysta deal

A number of private equity firms are looking to buy Bayer's €10bn MaterialScience unit, Platform Specialty Products concluded the $3.5bn Arysta LifeScience acquisition, while CF Industries ended merger talks with Yara International, Chemicals-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from October 2014.


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Private equity firms look to buy Bayer's €10bn MaterialScience unit

A number of private equity firms are reportedly looking to buy Bayer's MaterialScience unit, which is valued at €10bn.

The news came after the German chemical and pharmaceutical firm announced plans to spin off the division, and list it on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange within the next 12 to 18 months.

Cinven, CVC, Advent, Carlyle and KKR are among those interested in Bayer's unit.

BASF and Hemmelrath partner to develop pigment technologies

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BASF has partnered with Hemmelrath Technologies to develop new concepts of pigment technology.

The partnership aims to enhance the output and quality of coatings and paint production through new processes in an effort to lower costs.

The companies plan to combine modular coating plant (MoFa) technology with BASF's Xfast range of concentrated solid preparations and pigment preparations.

Sasol to commence work on $8.1bn ethane cracker complex in US

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South African chemical firm Sasol made a final investment decision to build an $8.1bn ethane cracker and derivatives complex in Lake Charles, Louisiana, US.

The complex will house a cracker facility that converts ethane into ethylene, as well as six chemical manufacturing plants.

Sasol president and CEO David Constable said: "Once commissioned, this world-scale petrochemicals complex will roughly triple our chemical production capacity in the US, enabling Sasol to further strengthen its position in a growing global chemicals market.

"The US Gulf Coast's robust infrastructure for transporting and storing abundant, low-cost ethane was a key driver in our decision to invest in America."

European Commission blocks Honeywell-DuPont car-coolant chemical JV

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The European Commission (EC) has informed Honeywell International Inc. and DuPont of its preliminary view that a cooperation agreement entered into in 2010 to produce a new refrigerant for use in car air-conditioning systems (R-1234yf) may have limited its availability and technical development, placing the deal in breach of EU rules.

R-1234yf chemical is the only commercially available refrigerant that complies with the MAC Directive and has a sufficiently low global warming potential.

The EC said that the series of agreements between Honeywell and DuPont indicated competition concerns for the coolant.

The two companies no longer collaborate in this market. DuPont and Honeywell sell HFO-1234yf separately and are competitors in the marketplace.

Platform Specialty Products buys agrochemical firm Arysta for $3.5bn

Chemical products maker Platform Specialty Products signed a deal to buy Arysta LifeScience from private equity firm Permira Advisers for approximately $3.5bn.

Arysta offers agrochemical and bio-solutions products, including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, bio-stimulants and value-added nutrients.

The company has a workforce of more than 1,300 people and 3,600 product registrations in more than 100 countries.

In 2013, Arysta generated revenues of $1.5bn with 65% of it achieved from high-growth markets such as Latin America, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, China and South Asia.

Archroma acquires BASF's textile chemicals division

Swiss chemicals manufacturer Archroma agreed to acquire BASF's textile chemical operations, as part of efforts to expand its presence in the chemical industry.

About 290 employees and a range of printing, finishing and coating additives will be transferred to Archroma under the deal, which also includes the global textile chemicals business, as well as the legal entity BASF Pakistan.

Upon completion of the transaction, expected by the first quarter of 2015, BASF's chemical unit will be integrated into the Archroma textile chemicals specialties business.

CF Industries ends merger talks with Yara International

US-based CF Industries Holdings ended merger talks with Norway's Yara International after the companies failed to agree on the terms of the transaction.

If the deal had been successful, it would have created a global fertiliser company with annual sales of around $20bn.

CF Industries Holdings president and CEO Tony Will said: "I want to thank the management team and board of directors of Yara International for their cooperation and professionalism throughout our discussions.

"Although we identified very significant operational and structural synergies, we were ultimately unable to agree on terms of a transaction that met the requirements of all our respective shareholders.

US research team discovers new way to stabilise foams for lightweight materials

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A research team at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a new type of foam, called capillary foam, which helps create lightweight and sustainable materials.

The team included Yi Zhang, who was co-advised by the Georgia Tech School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering study co-author and professor Sven Behrens, and professor Carson Meredith.

A combination of particles and a small amount of oil in water-based foams offer better foam stability, the researchers said.

The synergy of oil and particulate is counterintuitive as oils are usually used as defoaming agents; however, particles in the capillary foam form a stabilised network with the help of oil bridges.

Yara International receives regulatory approval for OFD Holding takeover

Norway-based Yara International secured all the required regulatory approvals to proceed with the acquisition of OFD Holding from Omimex Resources for $377m.

Acquisition of the required approvals paves way for the commencement of the integration process.

Yara International president and CEO Jørgen Ole Haslestad said: "We welcome the approvals from regulatory authorities, which now allow us to close the acquisition and start the integration process.

"This is an important milestone, which paves the way for Yara's further development in Latin America, creating value for Yara's shareholders and contributing to agricultural, industrial and mining sector growth in the region."

US court retains $1.06bn fine on Dow Chemical over polyurethane pricing

The US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the $1.06bn antitrust ruling against Dow Chemical, which was blamed for allegedly fixing prices for polyurethane chemical products between 1999 and 2003.

Dow was one of several chemical company defendants named in the price-fixing class action lawsuit and the plaintiffs had sought more than $1bn in damages.

In January 2013, the company went to trial in Kansas City and a federal jury imposed a $400m verdict after it found the company conspired to fix prices of urethane.

However, Dow's appeal to overturn that verdict was denied in May 2013 and the company was ordered to pay $1.2bn in damages under the US antitrust law.

Including some other settlements, the sum was finally reduced to $1.06bn.