SABIC and Clariant to deepen alliance as regulators back stake deal

A man walks past the headquarters of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) in Riyadh. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2018

SABIC and Clariant to deepen alliance as regulators back stake deal

  • Deal rescues Clariant from hostile takeover
  • SABIC to become biggest shareholder in Swiss firm

ZURICH: Saudi Basic Industries Corp won regulatory approvals on Monday to buy a quarter of Swiss chemicals maker Clariant, cementing a partnership they hope will drive profit.
The world's fourth-largest chemicals maker said in January it was buying a 24.99 percent stake from activist investors, rescuing Clariant from a hostile takeover threat.
However, gaining a regulatory nod from countries including Mexico and Brazil has pushed back closure of SABIC's stock purchase by nine months.
But with this roadblock now cleared, Clariant Chief Executive Hariolf Kottmann plans a strategic update to tell shareholders how the combination will work.
SABIC sees Clariant as a stepping stone to diversifying its portfolio, which relies on commodity chemicals like fertilizers and polymers. Kottmann meanwhile aims to capitalise on opportunities in SABIC's 50-plus country network, to not only boost sales but reap savings on raw materials costs.
When the transaction closes on Thursday, SABIC will become Clariant's biggest shareholder, ahead of a German family group that has held about 14 percent since selling holdings in Bavarian-based Sued-Chemie in 2011.
The size and reach of the Saudis -- SABIC has $40 billion annual sales, six times Clariant's revenue -- could help the Swiss company lower costs for materials for its products, which include fire retardants which are dropped to tackle forest blazes and catalysts to speed up chemical reactions.
"On the sourcing side, Clariant could really benefit," Zuercher Kantonalbank analyst Philipp Gamper said. "With its extensive business connections it will also open up sales opportunities."
Clariant shares were up 1.3 percent at 1100 GMT. They have fallen 12.7 percent this year, as the arrival of SABIC as an anchor shareholder dented hopes of a takeover or break-up.
SABIC shares, which have risen by about 17 percent this year, were down 1 percent.
While SABIC has said it has no plans to buy a majority holding, its deepening union with Clariant has prompted speculation that managers in Riyadh will eventually assert more control. Sources have said no move is imminent, although SABIC is unlikely to just sit on its 25 percent holding.
SABIC has long been a Clariant customer and the two have a plant design joint venture called Scientific Design, which generates shared revenue of about $80 million annually.
Yousef Al-Benyan, SABIC's CEO said the companies knew each other and had worked well together for many years.
"This investment is in line with SABIC’s strategy of product diversification...and becoming a global leader in the specialties sector," he said.


Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

Updated 44 min 3 sec ago

Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

  • Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence

DUBAI: Gulf Marine Services said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Duncan Anderson has resigned as the oilfield industry contractor warned a reassessment of its ships and contracts showed profit would fall this year, kicking its shares 12 percent down.

The Abu Dhabi-based offshore services specialist said a review by new finance chief Stephen Kersley of its large E-class vessels operating in Northwest Europe and the Middle East pointed to 2019 core earnings of between $45 million and $48 million, below $58 million that it reported last year.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Anderson, who has served as CEO for 12 years, was asked to step down. Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The company, which in the past predominantly operated in the UAE, expanded operations and deployed large vessels in the North Sea and Saudi Arabia nine years ago and listed its shares in London in 2014.

Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence.

The North Sea has seen a revival in production in recent years due to new fields coming on line and improved performance by operators following the 2014 oil price collapse.

Still, the basin’s production is expected to decline over the next decade, according to Britain’s Oil and Gas Authority.

“(The CFO’s) review has coincided with a pause in renewables-related self-propelled self-elevating support vessels activity in the North Sea, which will impact several of the higher day-rate E-Class vessels,” Investec wrote in a note.

Gulf Marine appointed industry veteran Kersley as chief financial officer in late May as it sought to halt a slide which has seen the company’s shares fall nearly 80 percent last year and another 23 percent so far this year.

The company said market conditions remained challenging and that it was still in talks with its financial advisors regarding a new capital structure.

“Management, the new board and the group’s advisors, have been in negotiation with the group’s banks on resetting its capital structure and progress has been made,” it said in a statement.

Last year, Gulf Marine said contracts were delayed into 2019 as the company was seen to be in breach of certain banking covenants at the end of 2018.

The company said it was still in talks with its banks and individual lenders with hopes of getting a waiver or an agreement to amend the concerned covenants.