INTERVIEW: Arkema shifts gear to more incremental M&A – CEO

Will Beacham

01-Mar-2024

PARIS (ICIS)–Arkema’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) strategy will focus on smaller deals after a period of intense transformation into a specialty chemicals company, according to its CEO.

Since its creation from Total’s chemicals operation in 2004, the France-headquartered group has reduced its exposure to commodities, while boosting specialty materials operations through organic investment and M&A. In 2006, its intermediates division accounted for 50% of group sales.

Some of its big specialty acquisitions include the Sartomer business in 2011, Bostik in 2015 and Ashland’s adhesives business in 2022. Big disposals include the vinyl products business in 2012 and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) in 2021.

A total of 26 acquisitions have added around €5bn in sales, while 20 divestments were worth around €3bn in revenues. The remaining intermediates comprise a fluorogas business and acrylic monomers.

Speaking on the sidelines of the company’s 2023 financial results conference, CEO Thierry Le Henaff said: “We are very happy with our portfolio: it will continue to change a little bit, incrementally – we have done so much in terms of portfolio management…. Our M&A will now become more incremental.”

However, capital expenditure will be increased as the company builds new plants for materials that take advantage of some of the key growth areas Arkema has identified.

Le Henaff pointed out the projects and key product groups he identified during the company’s capital market day in October 2023.

The CEO said: “The world is changing with the drive towards sustainability which offers opportunities. To take advantage of these we need to invest more than in the past. We will try to have a few significant projects in order to seize the opportunities from megatrends.”

He said capex for 2024 is forecast to be €750m, €100m more than in 2023 and is expected to stay at these levels.

Interview by Will Beacham

Thumbnail photo: Arkema’s Colombes, France, headquarters (Source: Arkema)

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