Dutch Fund Joins Apollo in Akzo Specialties bid

13.02.2018 -

Interest in acquiring the Specialty Chemicals business Dutch coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel has put up for sale is shaping up to be more substantial than the company may have imagined when concocting the plan last year as a defense against an unwanted takeover by US rival PPG.

After Akzo shareholders at the end of November approved the proposed separation of the business, which last reported €4.8 billion in annual sales, a consortium led by US private equity firm Apollo and including German specialty chemicals producer Lanxess announced it planned to bid.

At the beginning of this week, the British newspaper Financial Times reported that Dutch pension fund PGGM, which oversees assets worth €200 billion on behalf of workers in the Dutch healthcare sector, has joined the consortium. 

Other bidders with an interest in the specialty chemicals arm reportedly include international private equity groups Carlyle, Bain and Advent, along with the Dutch buyout firm Hal Investments. None of this group has officially confirmed a bid.

Akzo has set an April 2018 deadline to sell or spin off the chemicals operations, which employ around 9,000 people and account for about a third of the Dutch group’s total sales and earnings.

Analysts speaking to Financial Times stressed that Apollo is out to win this one. In 2017, the investor raised a $25 billion acquisition fund to deploy its stakeholders’ cash but an attempt to acquire Unilever’s spread business failed.

To underscore its determination to sweep up the Akzo business, the newspaper’s sources said Apollo has pulled out of other major European chemical auctions, including the asset sales international gases merger partners Linde and Praxair are being obliged to hold in exchange for antitrust approval.