Lanxess Talking to Ineos About Rubber

Lanxess is talking to Ineos about a partnership in synthetic rubber, the news agency Reuters has said, quoting “people familiar with the matter.”

Although financial terms and the size of the stake in a proposed joint venture have yet to be agreed, Ineos is now the front runner to take a stake in the Lanxess business, with a deal possible within the next few weeks, according to the news agency report.

The German specialty chemicals producer has been seen as talking to Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) as well as Russian petrochemical groups Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Sibur about some type of cooperation. Reuters’ sources said a deal with Saudi Aramco ran aground as the Saudi company wanted to acquire Lanxess in full.

CEO Matthias Zachert is under a certain amount of pressure to cut a deal before the end of this year. When announcing plans for the rubber realignment in February of this year he said a decision would be made in the second half of 2015. The market suffers from overcapacity estimated at around 20%, thanks in part to new plants built by Lanxess itself.

The new standalone company is planned to include the Tire & Specialty Rubbers (TSR) and High Performance Elastomers (HPE) business units, along with their support administrative functions. Other of the Lanxess rubber businesses are being realigned, and its least competitive production facility for EPDM at Marl, Germany, will close early next year.

Lanxess is thought to want a partner with access to cheap crude oil and gas-related raw materials. In the long term, Ineos could potentially fill the bill if its plans to first import shale gas-derived ethane from the US and later explore for shale gas in the UK materializes as planned by chairman Jim Ratcliffe. Even before that, the Swiss-based group could supply naphtha-based raw materials from its facilities near Lanxess’ headquarters at Cologne.

Reuters quote “industry experts” as saying Lanxess' carved-out synthetic rubber business could be valued at about six times annual EBITDA.

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