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October 14, 2002
Volume 80, Number 41
CENEAR 80 41 p. 14
ISSN 0009-2347


BUSINESS

European Trio Sets Divestitures

PATRICIA SHORT

Significant transactions at Bayer, Rhodia, and Lonza show that the European chemical industry is still in full restructuring mode.

Bayer is selling its Rhein Chemie subsidiary, which makes rubber and plastics additives, to Boston-based investment firm Advent International for roughly $215 million. The business, based in Mannheim, Germany, has 1,100 employees worldwide and had sales last year of approximately $320 million. Bayer just completed the sale of another unwanted business, fragrance maker Haarmann & Reimer.

For Rhodia, the Italian company Mossi & Ghisolfi is providing the opportunity to divest its holding in Brazil's Rhodia-ster. Mossi & Ghisolfi had agreed to buy Rhodia's 88.4% stake in the Brazilian company in July, but the changing economic situation in Brazil forced Rhodia to renegotiate the deal.

Under the new agreement, Mossi & Ghisolfi will pay roughly $190 million for the business, South America's largest producer of polyester fiber and polyethylene terephthalate resins. It had sales of $337 million in 2001.

Meanwhile, at Lonza, Chairman Martin Ebner has resigned after announcing that
BZ Group Holding, a financial company he controls, will sell its 19.8% stake in Lonza. Former Lonza vice chairman Sergio Marchionne--now chief executive of the certification group Société Générale de Surveillance--is to take over as nonexecutive chairman.

Lonza is "not unhappy" with the change at the top, says one senior executive there, despite the temporary uncertainty about who might buy the shares. According to a company statement, the Lonza board will provide full details of its operational and strategic objectives to potential buyers of the stake, whether they be institutional investors or other specialties producers.



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