Lanxess Bolsters Pension Fund on Rubber Deal
German specialty chemicals producer Lanxess has announced it will invest €200 million of the €1.2 billion proceeds from Saudi Aramco’s takeover of part of its synthetic rubber business into topping up its pension assets. The additional funding, CEO Matthias Zachert said, will improve the group-wide pension funding status to 51%.
In February of this year, Lanxess said it would funnel about a quarter of the proceeds from Aramco’s contribution to the 50:50 joint venture, which began life as Arlanxeo on Apr. 1, into its Advanced Intermediates and Performance Chemicals businesses. The remainder would go toward paying down debt and buying back shares.
Commenting on the latest plans, Lanxess’ chief financial officer, Michael Pontzen, said “pension provisions constitute a major part of our debt, which we are now actively reducing by strengthening our pension assets. With this voluntary pension funding, we are also addressing the challenge posed by continuing low interest rates.”
The company’s pension provisions amounted to €1.4 billion at the close of the first quarter of 2016.
From January to March, the new rubber joint venture managed from the Netherlands suffered a sales setback of 11% against the comparable 2015 period to €640 million, while at the same time EBITDA pre-exceptionals rose by 16% to €113 million and the EBITDA margin to 17.7% from 13.4%.
For Lanxess as a whole, EBITDA pre-exceptionals increased 14% year-on-year to €262 million in the first quarter, with the margin rising to 13.6% from 11.2%. Based on the strong Q1 performance, the company has lifted its 2016 EBITDA guidance into the range of €900m-950 million.