Japan's Toray targets cheaper carbon fiber market in $584 million Zoltek buy

Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:47pm EDT

(Reuters) - Japan's Toray Industries Inc (3402.T), maker of advanced fibers used in Boeing Co's (BA.N) 787 Dreamliner jet, will buy U.S.-based Zoltek Companies Inc ZOLT.O in a move to tap into the lower end of the growing global market for carbon fibers.

The agreed $584 million deal will give Toray, also developing high-specification fibers for luxury auto maker Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE), access to Zoltek products used to make construction materials and cheaper auto parts.

Carbon fiber is strong and lighter than steel, but higher prices have restricted its appeal to potential customers so far.

Under terms of the transaction, Toray will acquire all of Zoltek's outstanding shares for $16.75 per share in cash. The offer was unanimously approved by Zoltek's board, isn't subject to any financing conditions and is expected to close late this year or early in 2014.

Toray's offer represents a 2 percent premium to Zoltek's closing price on Wednesday of $16.43. Zoltek's stock closed up 12.6 percent at $18.51 on Thursday after the Nikkei business daily reported the news, giving a range of $600-$700 million for the acquisition.

Zoltek's products are priced about 60 percent lower than Toray's high-performance carbon fiber, Nikkei reported

Zsolt Rumy, founder and chief executive officer of Zoltek, will sell his own stock in the company to Toray, equal to about 18 percent of outstanding Zoltek shares.

Toray's shares rose 2.7 percent in early Tokyo trading after the deal was announced.

JP Morgan Securities LLC is serving as financial advisor to Zoltek and Thompson Coburn LLP is serving as its counsel in connection with the transaction.

(Reporting by Varun Aggarwal and Mridhula Raghavan in Bangalore; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)