Having announced their intentions to combine to form the world’s largest speciality chemicals company, the proposed merger between Switzerland’s Clariant and the USA’s Huntsman has suffered a setback after two hedge fund companies bought a combined 7.2% stake in Clariant and opposed the merger.
The two hedge fund companies, Corvex and 40 North, are together the largest Clariant shareholder.
They have said they believe Clariant would be better off selling parts of its business and focusing on niche products rather than merging with Huntsman.
In an email response, Peter Huntsman, CEO of Huntsman, has voiced his confidence that the deal with Clariant will go ahead and that the shareholder opposition can be overcome.
He said the strategy behind the $14 billion deal remains sound:
"Combining Huntsman with Clariant brings together market-leading technologies and global manufacturing footprints of two strong, successful companies to create a world class, global specialty chemicals company.
"Long-term investors understand the substantial benefits of this transaction."
Huntsman and Clariant officials are meeting at Huntsman’s headquarters in America this week to discuss details of the merger in the face of this challenge.
A spokesman for Clariant has previously commented on the challenge: "We have noticed the increased investment of Corvex /40 North in Clariant and their demands.
“We are in close dialogue with them and will therefore not comment further on this in public.
“We are taking all of our shareholders’ interests seriously and maintain our long-practiced open and engaging attitude with them."
Huntsman and Clariant disclosed their intention to combine the companies in May, with a deal that would establish its headquarters in Clariant's hometown of Pratteln, Switzerland, in part for tax purposes.
Peter Huntsman would become the CEO of the combined company, and Clariant Chief Hariolf Kottmann would become its Chairman.
The deal was scheduled to close by the end of this year.
Pictured: (left) Peter Huntsman, CEO of Huntsman and Hariolf Kottman, Chief of Clariant.
Source: www.houstonchronicle.com/Visit: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Huntsman-CEO-defends-Clariant-merger-against-11279146.php#photo-13216919