* Clariant to get 460 mln Sfr of total sale price in cash
* Leather, detergents, intermediates still under review
* Shares rise 4.3 percent as analysts welcome sale
* Three units had 1.2 bln Sfr in 2012 revenue
ZURICH, Dec 27 Chemicals company Clariant AG
has agreed to sell three units to U.S. private equity
firm SK Capital for 502 million Swiss francs ($550 million) in a
boost to plans to move away from low-margin cyclical businesses.
Clariant had put its textile chemicals, paper speciality
chemicals and emulsions units up for sale earlier this year to
reduce its exposure to areas of the market vulnerable to swings
in the global economy.
The sale has happened more quickly than expected, giving a
boost to Clariant's shares, which rose more than 4 percent.
"For Clariant the transaction marks a significant milestone
in the execution of its profitable growth strategy, after the
acquisition of Sued-Chemie in 2011," Chief Executive Hariolf
Kottmann said in a statement on Thursday.
In October, Clariant had had to cut its full-year sales
forecast, showing the impact of Europe's economic
slowdown. The chemical industry's dependence on
highly cyclical machinery makers, car manufacturers and builders
makes it especially vulnerable to economic downturns.
The company is still reviewing its leather services,
detergents and intermediates businesses as part of a wider
restructuring to meet certain financial goals by 2015.
These revamp plans followed the Basel-based chemicals firm's
acquisition last year of German group Sued-Chemie, which
provides access to high-growth sectors such as the petrochemical
industry in the Middle East.
Sued-Chemie's catalysts unit, for example, makes compounds
to speed up chemical reactions and also help turn plant material
Analysts at Bank Vontobel, Barclays Capital and Berenberg
welcomed the outright sale as opposed to a partnering deal. They
also said the sale had come earlier than expected.
"Despite short-term economic headwinds, such as guidance
lowered with Q3 results, today's level represents a clear buying
opportunity from a risk-reward perspective," Bank Vontobel
analyst Patrick Rafaisz said.
He said Clariant shares offered above peer group average
earnings-per-share growth prospects.
By 0826 GMT, the stock was 4.3 percent higher at 12.35
francs, outpacing a 0.2 percent rise in the Stoxx 600 chemicals
The businesses sold had around 1.2 billion francs in 2012
sales, or roughly 15 percent of the firm's total revenue.
Clariant will receive 460 million francs in cash from the sale.