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September 30, 2002
Volume 80, Number 39
CENEAR 80 39 p. 11
ISSN 0009-2347


DEBT REDUCTION

ICI Sells Catalysts Unit To Johnson Matthey

PATRICIA SHORT

ICI is selling its catalysts division, Synetix, to precious-metals specialist Johnson Matthey for roughly $406 million in cash.

ICI put Synetix up for sale in January. The unit’s 2001 revenues were $228 million, with operating profits of $37 million. It provides catalysts and related services for end uses including edible oils, methanol, ammonia, oil and gas, chemicals, fine chemicals, and oleochemicals.

“The acquisition is a significant step in growing our highly successful catalyst and chemicals business,” Johnson Matthey CEO Christopher R. N. Clark says. “The combination of Synetix and our existing catalyst businesses will substantially enhance our market position in the worldwide catalyst industry.”

That’s particularly true, the company predicts, in new growth segments such as gas-to-liquids technology for the energy sector and chiral catalysis for the pharmaceuticals industry.

Synetix is headquartered in Billingham, England, and has catalyst plants in the U.K., Germany, and India. Its 800 employees will transfer to Johnson Matthey.

After taxes and other costs associated with the sale, ICI expects to pocket just under $300 million, which it will use to pay down debt. That is the main reason for the sale; Synetix otherwise neatly supports ICI’s reshaped specialty focus.

The sale, which requires regulatory clearance in Germany, is expected to close in the fourth quarter. And the sale of the part of Synetix businesses owned by ICI India Ltd. is subject to the approval of that company’s shareholders.



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