Cookson splits divisions into two listed firms

INDUSTRIAL material supplier Cookson Group yesterday said it will separate its performance materials division from its engineered ceramics and precious metals processing division following a strategic review of the business.

The performance materials division – which supplies materials and chemicals to construction markets – will form a new London-listed speciality chemicals company called Alent. The rest of the Cookson Group, made up of principally the engineered ceramics division, will be renamed Vesuvius.

Alent and Vesuvius, which would likely be FTSE 250 companies, will have separate strategic, capital and economic characteristics as well as different management teams.

Steve Corbett, current chief executive of the performance materials division will become chief executive at Alent, and Francois Wanecq, chief executive of the engineered ceramics division will head up Vesuvius.

Shareholders in Cookson will receive one share in each of the new two entities for each existing share they hold, Cookson said yesterday.



INVESTMENT bank Rothschild acted as the financial adviser to Cookson, Alent and Vesuvius on this deal. Robert Leitão, head of UK investment banking and managing director Ravi Gupta are heading up the team, working alongside colleagues Nigel Himsworth and Charles Montgomerie. Gupta’s experience spans the engineering, manufacturing and service sectors. In the past year, he has worked on the $360m sale of Rexam’s plastics business, while last year both Gupta and Leitão had roles in the Rolls-Royce acquisition of German engine maker Tognum. Gupta is part of turnaround investor Melrose’s long-time advisory team, and has worked on a number of transactions on its behalf including the $590m sale of Dynacast. Leitão has been involved in over 150 high-profile M&A deals, including Cairn’s deal with Vedanta last year. He also worked on the Cairn India IPO in 2007.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Cazenove and UBS also have roles in the demerger.