US Ashland to get first bids for water tech business this week: execs

05 November 2013 16:12  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Ashland expects to receive this week preliminary bids for the water technologies business it is seeking to sell, executives of the US-based specialty chemicals producer said on Tuesday.

CEO James O’Brien told analysts during Ashland’s fiscal 2013 fourth-quarter earnings call that the formal sales process for the business was well under way and that the company expects to announce an agreement to sell the business in the first three months of 2014.

O’Brien also said that Ashland’s efforts to sell its elastomers business are continuing and that the company hopes to announce an agreement in the first calendar quarter of 2014.

Ashland will likely use proceeds from the sale of the two businesses to return capital to shareholders in the form of share repurchases, the CEO added.

However, responding to analysts’ questions regarding the use of the money, O’Brien would not rule out acquisitions.

"We have a long list of assets that we would like to own", but the market for the type of assets Ashland is interested in was “really tough”, he said.

O’Brien also said that Ashland does not plan to sell its Valvoline automotive lubricants, fluids and oils business, nor does the company expect to put that business into a tax-advantaged master limited partnership.

“Valvoline provides a very nice contribution to the corporation. It provides free cash flow that helps to reduce our debt,” he said.

Additional reporting by Tom Brown in London

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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