UpdateK+S acquires Dow Chemical's Morton Salt for $1.7bn

02 April 2009 15:52  [Source: ICIS news]

K+S acquires Dow(Adds Dow reaction, paragraphs 9-11)

LONDON (ICIS news)--K+S has agreed to acquire US salt producer Morton Salt from Dow Chemical for $1.675bn (€1.27bn), the German fertilizer company said on Thursday.

K+S said the acquisition, which is expected to close by mid-2009, would help make it a global leader in the salt industry.

“Through Morton Salt we gain access to new and less volatile de-icing regions. It extends and diversifies our geographic presence and enhances our positions in the North American consumer and industrial salt markets,” said K+S board chairman Norbert Steiner.

Morton, known for its “Umbrella Girl” consumer salt in North America, had annual sales last year of $1.2bn and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $270m.

“Morton Salt is a profitable business with strong cash flow generation and provides us with operational synergy potential by leveraging the leading salt consumer brand to its existing product portfolio and by optimising logistics between Chile, Brazil and North America,” Steiner said.

K+S said the acquisition would be clearly earnings per share (EPS) accretive from 2010 onwards.

The agreement marks the start of Dow Chemical’s plan to sell off assets following the leveraged acquisition of US specialty chemicals producer Rohm and Haas.

The chemicals giant said it would sell off businesses, lay off workers and divest plants – all part of a plan to retire a $12.5bn bridge loan by the end of the year.

"We are pleased that we reached an agreement with K+S at an attractive value in such a short period of time," said Dow CEO Andrew Liveris.

"This sale puts us ahead of schedule on our deleveraging plan post the close of the Rohm and Haas acquisition. It is the first of many steps designed to deliver on our clear and measurable plan to build value for our shareholders."

In all, Dow Chemical said it plans to raise $4.3bn from divestments and achieve $1.3bn in synergies from the Rohm and Haas acquisition. Also, Dow expects to reduce the $12.5bn bridge loan debt to roughly $7.5bn after the sale closes.

Morton Salt operates six salt rock mines, seven solar evaporation facilities, 10 vacuum pan operations as well as 62 salt stockpiles and 61 distributions centres, K+S said.

The business produces about 13.1m tonnes of salt per year. It has 2,900 employees and is headquartered in Chicago.

(Additional reporting by Ben DuBose)

($1 = €0.76)

For more on Dow Chemical and Rohm and Haas visit ICIS company intelligence
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By: Mark Watts
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