SABIC talks halt Clariant's strategic update
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SABIC talks halt Clariant’s strategic update

SABIC talks halt Clariant’s strategic update

SABIC is now the Swiss firm’s largest shareholder, after an activist investor sold its 25 per cent share to the Saudi company


Switzerland’s Clariant has halted plans to issue an update of its strategy after an activist investor sold its 25 per cent stake in the speciality chemicals maker to Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) last month.

Clariant had said in November it would issue the update after US-based investment vehicle White Tale demanded three Clariant board seats and called for an independent review of the Swiss firm by an investment bank.

The update, which Clariant intended to deliver in early 2018, was to cover merger and acquisition (M&A) activities, short-term portfolio management options, returns to shareholders and cost structures.

But Chief Executive Hariolf Kottmann’s plan is now on hold until he learns more during upcoming meetings with SABIC, now the largest Clariant shareholder.

“We have a completely new situation,” a Clariant spokesman said on Friday. “The strategic update started immediately, but now it does not make sense to proceed with something that was started under completely different circumstances.”

Clariant executives have had informal talks with SABIC managers but have yet to have a formal meeting on strategy.

Last year, White Tale, whose principals included hedge fund Corvex’s Keith Meister, succeeded in scuttling Clariant’s planned $20bn merger with US-based Huntsman after amassing a roughly $2.4bn stake in the Swiss company.

SABIC has not outline its objectives after buying White Tale’s stake for an undisclosed sum in late January.

Middle East energy firms have been keen to expand into more advanced chemical operations, such as the catalysts that Clariant produces.

SABIC, 70 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has long been a Clariant customer. The two first have a US joint venture, Scientific Design, which in 2016 generated revenue of CHF79m ($84.17m). Clariant’s total 2016 sales were CHF5.8bn.

Clariant releases its 2017 results on Wednesday.


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