Evonik’s Acrylics Unit Sale May Have Stalled

08.03.2016 -

Plans by German specialty chemicals producer Evonik to divest its acrylics business and diversify into higher value-added products appear to have stalled. According to reports, the company has not yet found a suitable buyer for these assets, has not found a takeover candidate that would match its targets for diversified growth elsewhere, or both, reports say.

In August 2015, chief financial officer Ute Wolf hinted in an interview with the Dow Jones news agency that Evonik was looking to sell the business, which includes the monomer MMA as well as PMMA resin and acrylic sheet – or possible the entire Performance Materials segment – as it no longer has the needed economies of scale.

A month later, the world’s second largest MMA producer behind Mitsubishi pulled the plug on a planned 120,000 t/y plant at Mobile, Alabama, while denying any connection with plans to sell the business.

Evonik is said to be sitting on piles of cash that it would like to use for an acquisition. After prospects for buying DSM, Clariant or Croda did not bear fruit it has reportedly now trained its sights on the $2 billion materials technology unit US industrial gases producer Air Products & Chemicals is planning to shed.

In September 2015, the US company announced plans to spin off the business into a publicly traded standalone unit by 2016. Evonik is said to be especially interested in the specialty additives and chemicals for adhesives and coatings activities, which would fit well with its existing operations.

According to the news agency Bloomberg, the German chemical producer has agreed with employees not to sell any existing business unless it needs cash for an acquisition. This could potentially tie its hands.

In 2015, Evonik’s Performance Materials segment posted better than expected results, the company said in reporting full-year sales and earnings. Although sales declined 10% to €32.4 billion as lower raw materials prices had to be passed on, and adjusted EBITDA receded by 5% to €309 million, the adjusted earnings margin improved to 9% from 8.5%.