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Phase II Review for Huntsman-Rockwood Deal

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Chemical company Huntsman Corporation ( HUN) said that it expects the European Commission to conduct an in-depth investigation (phase II) on its earlier announced buyout of Rockwood Holdings’ ( ROC) Performance Additives and Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) Pigments businesses.


The European Commission is expected to have up to 125 working days to make a final verdict on whether the pending acquisition would materially impede effective competition in the European economic area. Huntsman is currently working with the representatives of the European Commission as the latter continues its analysis over the deal.


Huntsman, in Sep 2013, landed a deal with Rockwood to buy the latter’s Performance Additives and TiO2 businesses. Huntsman agreed to pay $1.1 billion in cash and assume $225 million in pension obligations. The deal received antitrust clearance in the U.S. in Dec 2013. 


TiO2 Pigments was Rockwood’s biggest business unit in 2012 with revenues of roughly $889 million, representing around 25% of its total sales. The divestiture is in sync with Rockwood’s goal to become a more focused specialty chemical company.


Huntsman is a major producer of TiO2, polyurethane and other specialty materials. The acquisition will make the company the world's second-largest TiO2 producer.


The acquisition will not only enable Huntsman to better serve its customers through a broader range of products, but will also offer an attractive opportunity to unlock value within its pigments business. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to the company’s earnings per share for 2014 and offer meaningful cost saving opportunities. 


Huntsman with annual sales of more than $11 billion makes differentiated chemicals. The company makes products for an array of industries including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, appliances and packaging.


Huntsman is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock.


Other companies in the chemical space with favorable Zacks Rank are Northern Technologies International Corp. ( NTIC), The Dow Chemical Co. ( DOW) and Methanex Corp. ( MEOH). While Northern Technologies holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), both Dow Chemical and Methanex retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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