Buyout giants line up in preparation for the sale of AkzoNobel's chemical branch

Lucy White
AkzoNobel is embarking on a restructuring (Source: Getty)

Some of the world’s largest private equity firms are getting ready to place their bids as AkzoNobel prepares to sell its chemicals arm, City A.M. understands.

AkzoNobel, which creates Dulux paints, was subjected to an agressive activist investor campaign earlier this year from hedge fund Elliott Advisors, which pressed the company to accept a takeover offer from US rival PPG.

Although AkzoNobel stood its ground, it did promise to create value for investors by restructuring and selling off its chemicals business.

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“One third of the company is the chemicals business, which we are completely separating. That is on track to complete in April 2018,” said newly appointed chief executive Thierry Vanlancker.

He added that already the €5bn (£4.4bn) division had seen interest from a long list of both private equity and strategic buyers, including “all the large” buyout houses, although the official sales process has not yet begun.

“There seems to be significant attention,” said Vanlancker. “We will weed out those who are really interested, and those who are just curious, in the next couple of months.”

As of January, the chemicals business will be a fully separate entity owned by AkzoNobel. The company will then embark on a dual track proces for a sale or a listing, to be concluded by April.

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The rest of AkzoNobel’s focus has been firmly on the restructuring of its remaining paints and coatings business. The firm has set itself ambitious performance targets for 2020, aiming to reach 15 per cent return on sales.

AkzoNobel is also focusing on growth, pushing ahead on the acquisition trail, and aims to boost efficiency and procurement.

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