ICI concludes $8bn Unilever units purchase

08 July 1997 22:32  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (CNI)--ICI announced Tuesday completion of the $8bn purchase of four units from Unilever - a move that positions ICI as a major world player in speciality chemicals and puts Unilever in an acquisition mood as well.

The completion followed last week's approval of the sale by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and European Commission approval on 24 June. ICI shareholders had authorized the purchase 16 June. The deal was first announced 7 May.

The Unilever units involved are National Starch and Chemical Company, Quest International, Unichema International and Crosfield. During 1996 those businesses generated profits of $562m on sales of $4.7bn and held net assets of $2.1bn.

National Starch is a world leader in industrial adhesives and the leading producer of speciality starches. Quest is one of the world's leading fragrance, food ingredient and flavours companies. Unichema is a global leader in oleochemicals while Crosfield is a major producer of silicates, zeolites and silicas.

In announcing the sale completion, ICI chairman Ronald Hampel said the acquisition "will move ICI's product portfolio more towards market driven businesses supported by outstanding selling skills and science."

He added: "The portfolio of businesses in ICI is well positioned to develop and deliver sustainable profitable growth over the coming years."

Earlier, Hampel had noted that the acquisition gives ICI a broader international presence and that it also will give ICI "markedly more stability in terms of earnings."

Unilever spokesman John Gould told CNI Tuesday that the sale of his company's speciality chemicals units "makes it possible for Unilever to focus strongly on our consumer products business."

"We couldn't bring the human or financial resources to these very good speciality chemicals businesses," he added, "and it was felt that these units would have better opportunities if separated" from Unilever.

Gould said that some of the cash realised by Unilever in the deal will be used to remove net borrowings from Unilever's balance sheet.

However, Gould also suggested that as a result of the deal Unilever, too, may be poised for a shopping spree.

Unilever, said Gould, intends to use part of the revenue from the sale to develop its consumer products businesses. "In the short term this will be accomplished by investing in existing businesses," he said, adding that "Whenever appropriate, we will make acquisitions."

With sales exceeding $52bn in 1996, Unilever is one of the world’s largest consumer products companies. It produces and markets a wide range of foods and beverages, soaps and detergents, and personal care products.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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