October 31, 2017 / 6:49 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Clariant post Q3 beat amid row with biggest investor

(Adds details about results, blocked merger)

By John Miller

ZURICH, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Clariant, the Swiss speciality chemicals maker whose top investor derailed its $20 billion merger with Huntsman, posted better-than-expected third-quarter sales and operating profit on Tuesday as acquisitions added to results.

Sales rose 12 percent to 1.57 billion Swiss francs ($1.6 billion), above the average estimate of 1.50 billion from analysts polled by Reuters.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 13 percent to 235 million francs, ahead of the poll average of 229 million francs.

Clariant, whose North America sales rose 22 percent as acquisitions in 2016 helped boost its oilfield production chemicals business, is embroiled in a row with investor group White Tale over its future.

White Tale is demanding three seats on the board and an independent review of strategic options after leveraging its 20 percent-plus stake to scuttle the tie-up with Huntsman.

Clariant did not mention the failed merger in its third-quarter business update.

“We are well on track to achieve our targets,” said Chief Executive Hariolf Kottmann in a statement.

He said he was confident Clariant will grow sales for the full year in local currency, as well as make improvements in operating cash flow, absolute EBITDA and the EBITDA margin before exceptional items.

For the nine-month period, Clariant sales rose 9 percent to 4.7 billion francs, with EBITDA at 15.3 percent of sales. That is up from 15.2 percent in the year-ago period but still shy of Clariant’s mid-term target of an EBITDA margin before exceptional items of 16-19 percent. (Editing by John Revill and Michael Shields)

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