* Sachtleben, performance additives to be sold together
* Seller hoping for price tag of more than $2 billion
* First round bids due in late April
By Michael Erman and Arno Schuetze
NEW YORK/FRANKFURT, March 20 Specialty chemicals
producer Rockwood Holdings Inc is preparing to launch a
sale of two units that could fetch more than $2 billion, hoping
to benefit from an uptick in the U.S. construction sector,
people familiar with the matter said.
After yielding little interest for its Sachtleben unit in
earlier auctions, Rockwood is now offering to sell its
performance additives alongside the German titanium dioxide
business, the people said.
First bids for the combined businesses are due at the end of
April and, according to one of the people, could come in at more
than $2 billion - or 6.7 times earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation, and amortization.
The assets, which Rockwood believes can create significant
synergies by merging, are likely to attract interest mainly from
private equity firms, the people said.
Potential bidders include Bain Capital, Permira, Blackstone
Group LP and EQT, the people said, asking not to be named
because details of the process are not public.
The private equity firms, and Lazard, which is organising
the sale, declined to comment. Rockwood did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
Finnish chemicals group Kemira agreed to sell its 39 percent
stake in the Sachtleben joint venture to partner Rockwood last
month, allowing the company to proceed with the divestiture.
Titanium dioxide particles reflect light, creating the
whiteness in paints and car coatings. Their products are also
used to protect wood or plastic surfaces from bleaching out, as
sunblock in skin cream, and to take the shine out of synthetic
The titanium dioxide industry - with Dupont, Saudi
Arabia's Cristal Global, Tronox and Huntsman as
the largest players - has been on a roller coaster ride in
Producers slashed capacity in 2009 during the economic
crisis, only to see demand rebound and product prices soar in
2010 and 2011, driven by automotive demand. As idled plants came
back on stream, prices came under pressure again in 2012.
The performance additives unit produces color pigments which
are sold to firms making paint and clay additives which can be
used to improve the characteristics of building materials.
Home construction has begun its recovery from a rut that
preceded the worst recession since the Great Depression, adding
to U.S. economic growth last year for the first time since 2005.
Separately, Rockwood is also selling its industrial ceramics
unit CeramTec, with first round bids due next week, people
familiar with the deal said.