DuPont puts cyanide business on the block-sources

NEW YORK Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:31pm EST

NEW YORK Jan 29 (Reuters) - DuPont is exploring the sale of its cyanide business and has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to run the sale process, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The unit -- which sells the poisonous chemical for use in gold mining -- could be worth more than $700 million, according to two of the sources. It is projected to have earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of around $100 million, the sources said.

The 210-year-old chemical company is under pressure to focus more on its food and agriculture products. It sold its performance coatings unit last August to Carlyle Group LP for $4.9 billion cash.

DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman is betting drought-resistant AquaMax corn seed, Curzate potato fungicides, Amylex beer enzymes and other food and agriculture products will make DuPont's profit less subject to the ebbs and flows of its commodity chemicals business, which include its cyanide unit and its much larger paint business.

DuPont declined to comment. Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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