COVINGTON, Ky.—Ashland Inc. has put up for sale its styrene-butadiene rubber business, which includes a 250-employee plant in Port Neches, Texas.
The specialty chemicals company acquired the business in August 2011 when it purchased International Specialty Products Inc. for about $3.2 billion. ISP itself had acquired the SBR business during owner Ameripol Synpol Corp.'s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in 2003.
Ashland announced the move to sell the elastomers business in its July 25 third-quarter financial report.
"The decision to sell our elastomers business fits with Ashland's well-established strategy of divesting non-core assets and reinvesting in higher-margin, specialty chemical businesses where we see attractive growth opportunities," James J. O'Brien, Ashland chairman and CEO, said in the report.
The elastomers business is part of Ashland's Performance Materials division. The company said that unit had a 2-percent decline in sales, to $395 million, in the year-to-year comparison, mostly because of a steep decline in the price of butadiene, a key feedstock for elastomers.
Primarily because of that, Ashland said it took a $17 million non-cash inventory write-down during the third quarter.
O'Brien praised the staff at the elastomers operations, and he said the business could be a good strategic fit for the right operator.
When the company bought the SBR business, the Port Neches factory had the capacity to produce 240,000 metric tons of emulsion SBR. The 61-year-old facility originally was owned by B.F. Goodrich.