AkzoNobel dismisses takeover talk as it offsets rising costs with price hikes

City A.M. Reporter
AKZONOBEL has said it is optimistic it can raise prices and cut costs to offset higher oil-based raw materials prices in 2011, while dismissing talk the Dutch chemical group could be a takeover target.

Speculation about a potential leveraged buyout of the world’s largest paint maker surfaced last week, helping to lift AkzoNobel’s stock to a 32-month high.

Finance chief Keith Nichols tried to pour cold water on the rumour during AkzoNobel’s results yesterday.

“We are a leader in our business and we have a scale, to be honest, and I should not be commenting, that is quite a bite in this market to contemplate. So we are sticking to what we do, what we think is the right valuation strategy,” he said.

Rising metal and oil prices cut into AkzoNobel’s margins in the fourth quarter. AkzoNobel, which makes coatings for laptops, houses, planes and ships, said its margins fell to 10.4 from 11.9 per cent and core profit was below the consensus estimate.

AkzoNobel posted a three per cent rise in quarterly earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation but missed a consensus forecast.

Shares in the company, which analysts say have been held back by pension and restructuring costs, closed up 2.1 per cent at €49.57 (£41.7).