AkzoNobel plans to spin off Specialty Chemicals unit

Posted April 20, 2017

Akzo Nobel AKZO.AS , the Dutch paint-maker struggling to avoid a 24.6 billion euro (20.58 billion pounds) takeover by USA rival PPG Industries Inc PPG.N , on Wednesday reported better than expected operating profit for the first quarter.

An additional €50 million expected cost savings is expected related to the separation of Specialty Chemicals.

Elliott said it's prepared use the Dutch courts to ensure that shareholders have their say.

The plan includes carving out AkzoNobel's specialty chemicals business within the next 12 months - leaving behind its paints and coatings business - then considering selling or listing the new company, according to a statement Wednesday.

As part of its presentation on Wednesday, the company noted it aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 and it will spend 1 billion euros on research and development by 2020.

Akzo, which bought the UK's ICI and its Dulux brand in 2008 for £8 billion and also owns Polyfilla, said the plans offered "superior, faster and more certain value creation" than being sold to America's PPG, which has a reputation for cutting jobs.

The Amsterdam-based group also reported net profit of 240 million euros ($257 million) in the period from January to March, relatively stable from a year earlier, but ahead of analysts' expectations. Akzo Nobel has twice rejected approaches from its Pittsburgh-based rival, saying the latest proposal is too low and not worthy of discussion.

"Now is the right time to create two focused, high-performing businesses", Mr Buechner said.

"Under the new structure, the company will either list the Specialty Chemicals unit as a separate entity or sell it and focus on Paints & Coatings business with "fit-for-purpose" structure and processes".

The market appeared to have taken the moves in its stride Wednesday, with AkzoNobel shares on the Amsterdam AEX up slightly by 0.82 percent at midday to 78.96 euros.

Earnings before income tax climbed 13% year-on-year to 376m euros (£314m), while sales were up 7% at 3.7bn euros.

Akzo insisted in its investor presentation that its spinoff idea would increase shareholder value with "substantially fewer risks, uncertainties and social costs", than other measures. This values the company at 20 billion euros.