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China, North America Will Drive Chemicals Industry Mergers and Acquisitions

Global Chemicals M&A deal value grew by 13 percent in 2014 and is expected to experience an increase in 2015, according to the fourth edition of the Chemicals Executive M&A Report by A. T. Kearney, a leading global management consulting firm.

The global survey of chemical executives and members of the M&A community showed that 60 percent of these chemicals executives see increased mergers and acquisitions in 2015, driven by portfolio restructuring and an overall focus on companies' core businesses.

"Focus on the core business is a key driver of M&A in chemicals today as strategic owners work to restructure their portfolios and acquire complementary targets while activist investors push for increased corporate transparency and focus," said Andy Walberer A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the report.

Looking at North America chemical deals in 2014, deal value grew by 16 percent, and transactions grew by 24 percent, with seven of the top 10 transactions involving buyers or sellers focused on improving their core businesses. Notable divestitures included Ashland's sale of its water technology business, Philipps 66's divestment of its flow improver business, and CF Industries' divestment of its phosphate business.

Commenting on the findings of the study, Guttorm Aase, A.T. Kearney principal and co-author of the Chemicals M&A Executive Report noted, "North America is projected to maintain a dominant share of chemicals mergers and acquisitions in 2015. However, China will be the strongest growth region for chemicals M&A activity in 2015, driven by further consolidation of the local market as well as an increase in geographic expansion and inbound international investments in the China market."  

Financial investors were involved in some of the major deals in 2014, including Koch Industries and Goldman Sachs Capital's $3 billion acquisition of Flint Group from CVC Capital Partners, and Apollo Global Management's sale of its majority share in Taminco to Eastman, valued at $2.7 billion. Financial investors' focus shifted significantly toward specialty chemicals in 2014. While only one-third of companies acquired by financial investors in 2012 were active in specialty chemicals, the share in 2014 was 50 percent.

The survey was conducted among executives from leading chemical industry players and investment banks between December 2014 and February 2015. Survey respondents were typically the head of the M&A department of chemical companies or investment bank executives focused on the chemicals sector. Respondents provided their expectations on future M&A market developments on a Likert-type scale.

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