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SABIC has become the largest shareholder in specialty chemicals company Clariant. The Saudi chemicals giant has bought a 24.9% stake from the activist investors that thwarted Clariant’s plans to merge with Huntsman, last year.
SABIC said the acquisition is part of its long-term plan for differentiation: “Clariant is complementary to SABIC's existing specialties business and is well in line with SABIC's strategy of opening up new growth opportunities in specialty chemicals.”
The Saudi major said it currently has no plans to launch or otherwise effect a full takeover of Clariant. This will no doubt come as a relief to Clariant’s board which had been resisting efforts from activist investment vehicle White Tale to split up the Swiss group.
Last year, pressure from White Tale forced Clariant to cancel its planned merger with Huntsman, citing the growing uncertainty for shareholders caused by the opposition.
Clariant said in a statement that it intends to engage with SABIC in the coming weeks to discuss the new situation and explore ways to create value.
Clariant already has a relationship with SABIC through its Scientific Design joint venture, which develops process technology and catalysts.
“Clariant is now marked ‘off the market,”’ said Baader Bank analyst Markus Mayer. “SABIC is not being a white knight to be nice guys. They’ll want to acquire Clariant at some stage,” the analyst told Bloomberg.
The stake SABIC has purchased is worth around CHF2.2bn (US$2.36bn). It is the largest purchase since it bought General Electric plastic business for US$11.6bn in 2007.
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