US Ashland mulls sale of water technologies business

25 July 2013 16:07  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Ashland is exploring strategic alternatives for its water technologies business, including a potential sale, the CEO of the US-based specialty chemicals firm said on Thursday.

"While Water Technologies’ performance has improved this year, we believe that evaluating strategic options, including a possible sale, will help us determine the best path forward for this business," James O’Brien told analysts during Ashland’s fiscal third-quarter earnings call.

Ashland has retained Citi to assist in evaluating "all options", he said. Ashland would evaluate alternatives and come to a decision "as quickly as possible",  O’Brien said, but he did not disclose precise timelines.

During the three months ended 30 June, Ashland’s Water Technologies business showed continued improvement, both on a year-on-year basis and sequentially, the company said.

Water technologies' sales increased 2% year on year to $435m (€331m), led by a 7% sales growth in the pulp and paper business.

However, industrial water, which includes utility water and municipal wastewater treatment, continued to face challenges as sales declined by 4% year on year.

Water Technologies overall earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 11% year on year to $41m while EBITDA as a percent of sales climbed 70 basis points to 9.4%.

On a sequential basis, Water Technologies overall sales rose 3%, EBITDA increased 5%, and EBITDA margin increased by 20 basis points.

Additional reporting by Graeme Patterson

($1 = €0.76)

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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