Dow Said Prepared to Sell Copolymers Unit

17.10.2016 -

Dow Chemical is prepared to sell its business with ethylene acrylic acid copolymers, used primarily in food packaging, as a move toward winning antitrust approval for its $130 million merger with US rival DuPont, the news agency Bloomberg has reported. The unit with around $150 million in annual revenue belongs to the Packaging and Specialty Plastics division within the Performance Plastics operating segment. Dow is said to have hired a financial adviser to manage the sale. Citing people “with knowledge of the situation,”

Bloomberg said DuPont is also drawing up a list of potential disposals. Dow and DuPont have repeatedly stressed that they intend to complete their planned merger by the end of this year. The European Commission’s launch of an in-depth probe into the merger plans and subsequent delays due to incomplete information have thrown this timetable into question, as the Commission has set a date of February 2017 to finish its deliberations.

Divestments could well serve to accelerate an antitrust decision, and profitable assets are likely to quickly find buyers, market watchers say.  The copolymers business, which has high profit margins, is likely to command a price of several hundred million dollars, said Bloomberg’ sources, adding that initial documents have already been sent to prospective bidders.

Dow's packaging and specialty plastics division has been one of the company's best performers this year, setting records for earnings and sales volumes in both the first and second quarters of 2016 according to the US group’s financial results presentations.

Analysts also have identified divestment potential in the agrochemicals, seeds and industrial polymers units of the merged companies. Plans call for initial combination of all operations before splitting into three companies, Agriculture, Specialty Products and Material Science, by 2018. The copolymer activities are foreseen to be part of the materials unit, by far the largest with pro forma sales of $51 billion. The other two companies would have sales of $19 billion and $13 billion respectively.