Monday, 30 November 2009

BASF in talks to JV styrene - IPIC a good fit

BASF is in talks to joint venture its styrene business before exiting the market, Bloomberg reported last week. Abu Dhabi's IPIC (International Petroleum Investment Company) could be a strong contender for this transaction. I recently interviewed its managing director, Khadem Al Qubaisi, who told me he was close to a deal in Europe (pictured).

IPIC wants to expand its aromatics operations in the Chemaweyaat development and would be looking for technology to achieve that. It has a track record of acquiring companies for their technology, such as Austria's Borealis and Canada's Nova Chemicals.

Here is an excerpt from the Bloomberg article:

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical company, is in talks to form a styrene joint venture as a prelude to exiting the market, a company official with knowledge of the situation said.

Negotiations are at early stages and may be prolonged by antitrust concerns, said the person, who declined to be identified as discussions are private. BASF is still pursuing a sale of styrenics generating 3 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in sales, and Middle Eastern and private equity buyers are the most likely candidates, the person said.

The talks signal BASF is willing to accept a compromise after failing to find a buyer for factories that make styrene, used in CD cases and televisions. An earlier attempt to sell the unit to Rotterdam-based LyondellBasell Industries fell through after the financial crisis and slumping demand forced the chemical maker to seek bankruptcy protection.

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