Braskem SA (BRKM5), Latin America’s largest petrochemicals maker, is seeking a buyer for QuantiQ, its chemical distribution unit, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Braskem, based in Sao Paulo, hired Banco Santander SA (SAN) to solicit offers for the unit, which may fetch about $500 million, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. U.S. distributors such as Nexeo Solutions LLC and Univar Inc. and Germany’s Brenntag AG (BNR) may be among the suitors for the business, said one of the people.
Representatives for Braskem and Nexeo couldn’t immediately comment. Spokesmen at Santander, Univar and Brenntag declined to comment.
Slowing economic growth in Brazil, the world’s second- largest emerging market, is curbing demand for Braskem’s resins, which are used to make plastic for packaging and auto parts. Braskem, which uses oil-derived naphtha to make the resins, is also facing rising competition as U.S. rivals cut costs by using cheaper shale gas as their main raw material, Chief Financial Officer Marcela Drehmer said July 13. It posted a 1.03 billion- real ($506 million) loss in the second quarter after the cost of raw materials rose.
QuantiQ is Brazil’s largest chemicals and petrochemicals distributor, with five distribution centers in the country, three logistics centers and units at main ports, according to its website.
Braskem has invested outside of Brazil to diversify its sources of revenue. In September 2011, it paid Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) $323 million for polypropylene assets in the U.S. and Germany. The company plans to build a $2.5 billion complex in Mexico with Grupo Idesa SA and to develop a $3 billion plant in Peru in a venture with Petroperu SA.
Braskem fell less than 1 percent to 13.84 reais at the close in Sao Paulo. The stock rose 8.8 percent this year before today, more than the 4.2 percent gain in the benchmark Bovespa stock index.
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