Clariant and Huntsman abandon plans for merger

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Clariant and Huntsman abandon plans for merger

Clariant and Huntsman Corporation jointly announced on 31 October 2107 that they have mutually terminated their proposed merger of equals. The decision was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies. In a joint statement, Peter R Huntsman, president and CEO of Huntsman, and Hariolf Kottmann, CEO of Clariant, stated that they remain convinced that the proposed merger of equals as agreed to on 21 May 2017, would have been in the long-term best interests of all shareholders of both companies. Both are global specialty chemical companies that are also active in India.

However, given the continued accumulation of Clariant shares by investor White Tale Holdings and its opposition to the transaction, which is now supported by some other shareholders, they believe that there is simply too much uncertainty as to whether Clariant will be able to secure the two-thirds shareholder approval that is required to approve the transaction under Swiss law.

Under these circumstances the companies have jointly decided to terminate the merger agreement. The termination agreement foresees no payment of a break fee on either side. Peter Huntsman further commented, “We viewed this merger of equals as an opportunity to accelerate our downstream growth and for two great companies to become even better together. However, it is not the only option for Huntsman to create real and lasting value. Going forward, we will continue to create shareholder value by delivering on four objectives: Continued focus on growth and expanding margins in our differentiated and specialty businesses through both organic growth and appropriate bolt-on acquisitions; Consistent strong annual free cash flow and deleveraging, reaching investment grade metrics beginning in 2018; Monetization of the remaining Venator shares, further strengthening the balance sheet; and, Upon achieving investment grade metrics, return of additional value to shareholders.

“Our future has never looked brighter. The company’s balance sheet is stronger than it has ever been and will strengthen further as we continue to generate strong cash flow from our operations and monetize our Venator equity. We also look forward to wide scale improvement this year over the previous in earnings, growth and margin expansion.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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