China's Wanhua becomes majority owner of Hungary's BorsodChem

01 February 2011 10:43  [Source: ICIS news]

PRAGUE (ICIS)--China's Wanhua Industrial Group has become the majority owner of Hungary's BorsodChem, creating the third-largest isocyanates producer in the world, the two companies said on Tuesday.

“The integration of BorsodChem into the Wanhua Group creates the third-largest isocyanate producer in the world by turning both companies from two regional players into one global company. I am convinced of the future benefits of our partnership sharing industry know-how and driving genuine synergies,” said Jason Ding, CEO of Wanhua Industrial Group.

“Wanhua will leverage BorsodChem on its path towards globalisation. Within the Wanhua Group, BorsodChem will be responsible for Wanhua’s European operation. We aim to expand BorsodChem and make it the most competitive isocyanate producer in Europe,” he added.

“Wanhua has acquired a successfully re-engineered company with efficient production technologies and committed employees," said Wolfgang Buchele, chairman and CEO of BorsodChem.

"The strategic cooperation with Wanhua will make BorsodChem an even stronger partner to the European customer base of the group. In addition, it creates an access for BorsodChem to the Asian markets. With these excellent future perspectives BorsodChem will remain one of the largest employers in Hungary,” he added.

In a press release, BorsodChem said its long-term development would now be secured by Wanhua, which was financially backed by a syndicate led by the Bank of China.

Wanhua acquired majority ownership of BorsodChem by exercising a call option on shares held by funds of UK-based private equity group Permira and Austrian private equity investor Vienna Capital Partners (VCP). It now owns 96% of the shares. No further financial details were disclosed.

An initial 38% stake as well as a call option were provided to Wanhua in June 2010 in return for a €140m ($192m) investment in the completion of a 200,000 tonne/year toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant and a nitric acid facility at BorsodChem's main site in Kazincbarcika, Hungary, as well as in corporate purposes, the companies said.

Wanhua gained a seat at the negotiating table on the future of indebted BorsodChem after anonymously buying up large chunks of its outstanding loans portfolio through an investment bank in 2009.

BorsodChem intends to start up the new TDI facility in the first half of 2011. The company already operates a 90,000 tonne/year TDI unit at Kazincbarcika.

Wanhua has also said it would back BorsodChem's existing plan to expand its methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) capacity. It is yet to detail the extent of that commitment, but prior to the financial crisis BorsodChem was working on plans to become Europe's number two MDI producer by raising capacity to 360,000 tonnes/year from its current 190,000 tonnes/year.

Christian Neuss, a partner at Permira, said: “We are convinced that the new owner will continue along the growth strategy that Permira and VCP initiated."

Heinrich Pecina, senior partner at VCP, said: “This transaction is highly significant for central Europe and will pave the way for further investments by Chinese companies in the region. Having been invested in and committed to BorsodChem for more than a decade, we would be pleased if we could continue to be involved in the company under Wanhua’s stewardship.”

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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