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Evonik to complete purchase of business unit

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Johann-Caspar Gammelin, chairman of the board of management, Evonik

DUESSELDORF, Germany—Evonik Performance Materials GmbH expects to complete the $3.8 billion purchase of Air Products’ specialty chemicals business by year-end.

Evonik has no plans to sell its Performance Materials division, confirmed Johann-Caspar Gammelin, chairman of the board of management, at a news conference at K2016.

During the conference, where the company announced plans to open a biaxial stretching plant for acrylic in Weiterstadt, Germany, he moved to squash persistent rumors about Evonik’s commitment to its Performance Materials division.

“There are no plans whatsoever to sell the segment or enter into a joint venture with another company. The business is profitable, although it does not generate the same high margins as the other segments,” he said.

Gammelin added later the Performance Materials business generates significant amounts of free cash, which is used to “grow the rest of the business.”

He confirmed the purchase of Air Products’ Materials Technology division, which makes amine catalysts for polyurethanes, is likely to complete by the end of the year.

“It is rare to buy a business in the chemical industry without also having to buy something you don’t want,” Gammelin said after the news conference.

Evonik makes a range of silicone foam stabilizers for polyurethanes.

“It is a really complementary fit with our existing business; as additive suppliers, we have similar cultures and Air Products has a strong R&D pipeline,” he added.

Construction of a new plant for biaxially oriented acrylic at Weiterstadt, 500 kilometers southwest of Berlin, will convert existing acrylic capacity at the site into material with higher-impact strength, mechanical stability and chemical resistance than conventional grades of the firm’s traditional Plexiglas products, Gammelin added.

The new plant “will offer new formats, some of which are twice the size of dimensions currently available on the market today, which opens up market opportunities for us,” he said.

Gammelin said his firm is evaluating whether to build a new methylmetacrylate plant, adding: “We have C3 technology, C4 technology and C2 technology, which can use shale gas.

“We are looking for the right time and place to leverage the right technology,” he said.