Bayer and Lanxess Divest Currenta Stakes
In separate transactions still subject to approval by regulatory authorities, Bayer and Lanxess have sold their respective 60% and 40% stakes in German infrastructure company Currenta to funds managed by Australia-based Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA).
The deal with MIRA, touted as the world's largest infrastructure investor, was mooted several months ago by sources speaking to the Bloomberg news agency.
The joint transaction values Currenta at altogether €3.5 billion before deduction of net debt and pension obligations and includes a real estate portfolio to be transferred by Bayer.
Currenta manages and operates infrastructure, energy supply and other essential services at the chemical parks in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany, all of which once belonged to Bayer.
Lanxess took over the minority stake in Currenta following its spin-off from Bayer in early 2005.
Bayer’s stake has been assigned an equity value of about €.17 billion after deduction of net debt and pension obligations. To strengthen Currenta, the Leverkusen group is selling it what it said is “an extensive package of real estate and infrastructure” to the company for €180 million.
The share held by Lanxess has a pretax equity value of about €780 million after deduction of net debt and pensions. The Cologne-headquartered former Bayer commodity chemicals business is entitled to a profit participation until completion of the transaction.
Lanxess also has reached a 10-year agreement with MIRA on service and supply contracts for the three sites in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld, where a significant portion of its global production facilities are located.
Bayer expects its part of the transaction to close in this year’s fourth quarter. The now life science-focused group has also reached an agreement with MIRA on long-term service and supply contracts for its plants on the Currenta-operated sites.
Managing board member Hartmut Klusik, who is also labor director of parent company Bayer AG, said the Australian infrastructure group has a long term focus and will also be a reliable employer for Currenta’s workforce.
As one of Currenta's main customers, Lanxess will provide MIRA with operational support during the transition phase, and will thus continue to hold its stake for several months longer. It expects the divestment to be complete by the end of April 2020.
Bayer announced in November 2018 that it was looking to sell its stake in the infrastructure company as its focus has shifted following the carve-out of engineering plastics producer Covestro. Both Lanxess and Covestro declined to pick up any of the Bayer stake, preferring instead to invest in the development of their individual businesses.
Commenting on the equity sale, Lanxess CEO Matthias Zachert said it was “crucial “that the future Currenta ownership structure safeguard its strategic interest in an industry-oriented set-up of the chemical parks.
“With MIRA as an experienced and strong partner and with the long-term contract package, we have achieved this and secured a reliable infrastructure at competitive conditions for the future," Zachert added. At the same time, he said the sale of its stake “will give us additional financial leeway to drive forward our growth course in specialty chemicals."
Active in Germany for 30 years, MIRA can claim extensive experience in Currenta’s core business areas including utilities, transport, logistics, storage, waste management and treatment services. The company said it intends to “invest significantly” to enhance environmental and operational performance.
MIRA said it intends to “ensure full continuity of service at the chemical parks without any restructuring or any planned changes to the existing workforce.” It noted also that long-term contracts have been agreed with the current customers.