SABIC’s Purchase of Clariant Stake Delayed

27.07.2018 -

Plans by Saudi Arabian petrochemicals giant SABIC to acquire a nearly 25% stake in Swiss specialty chemicals producer Clariant are being held up by outstanding antitrust approvals, but the deal is not threatened, the Swiss group’s CEO Hariolf Kottmann said during an earnings conference call on Jul. 24.

Regulatory clearance from countries such as Brazil and Mexico is still forthcoming, Kottmann said, adding that this means that management’s plans to give investors an update in September on Clariant’s future plans in light of the new ownership situation could have to be put on hold.

While analysts have speculated that SABIC could be interested in buying more of Clariant, if not all of it, Kottmann said this discussion is premature, as the companies' two sides have not yet been able to hold detailed talks.

“Clariant remains the top takeover candidate in the sector,” Baader Helvea analyst Markus Mayer told the news agency Reuters. However, Kottmann said it does not appear that SABIC wants to acquire any additional shares.

From the current point of view, the CEO said, talk of a complete takeover “makes no sense, because I think now we are in a much earlier stage and phase of discussions where we have the obligation to find value-creating potentials for our shareholders.”

Recently confirmed plans by compatriot Saudi Aramco to acquire part of the Saudi government’s indirect 70% stake in SABIC, held by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), will not have any influence on the chemical producer’s plans for the Clariant purchase, Kottmann remarked.

In January of this year, SABIC emerged as a white knight to acquire shares in the Swiss group from White Tale, the acquisition vehicle of funds Corvex and 40 North, which had torpedoed Clariant’s plans to merge with US competitor Huntsman.