DuPont Co., the third-biggest U.S. chemical maker, is seeking buyers for a polyester-film joint venture and a business that makes powder-based paint, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is advising DuPont on the sale of DuPont Teijin Films Ltd., owned jointly by Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont and Osaka, Japan-based Teijin Ltd., said the people, who declined to be identified because the process is private. Greenhill & Co. is working with DuPont on the powder-coatings sale, the people said. The assets would likely fetch less than $1 billion each, the people said.
The powder-coatings business is part of DuPont’s performance-coatings operations, a unit that accounted for 12 percent of the company’s $31.5 billion in revenue last year. Ellen Kullman, who became chief executive officer in January 2009, has been steering DuPont toward faster-growing products such as food enzymes and biofuel with her $7.1 billion purchase of food-ingredient maker Danisco A/S this year.
“DuPont has made very few divestitures since Kullman took over,” Mark Gulley, a New York-based analyst at Ticonderoga Securities who rates the shares “buy,” said in a telephone interview. “This is probably overdue.”
DuPont has completed six separate sales of assets in the past three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. One of the deals fetched $40 million, while prices for the others weren’t disclosed.
DuPont is also considering buying the 28 percent stake it doesn’t already own in its Solae LLC soy-products joint venture with Bunge Ltd., one person said. DuPont had been seeking a buyer for the venture since July and has now put that process on hold while it decides whether to merge the business with Danisco, the person said.
Danisco may have provided DuPont with the infrastructure and expertise it needs to make Solae more profitable, Gulley said. Combining Danisco’s dairy-focused food business with Solae would be “very complementary” and “enable higher growth,” Kullman said in a Jan. 10 conference call discussing DuPont’s bid for Danisco.
DuPont and Bunge formed Solae in 2003 when they merged two businesses. Solae makes more than 1,000 products, including soy proteins used in hot cereals, sports drinks, vegetarian foods and meat products. The venture employs about 2,400 people.
DuPont had expected to fetch as much as $1.75 billion for Solae, people familiar with the matter said in August. A company executive said in September that a sale may happen by the end of the year, or the two partners may instead continue with the venture.
Solae’s customers include soy-milk maker 8th Continent, which was created as a joint venture between DuPont and General Mills Inc. in 2000 and sold to Stremicks Heritage Foods in 2008.
Earlier this year, DuPont also hired Bank of America Corp. to help seek buyers for a unit known as Liqui-Box, which makes plastic packaging for food items such as ketchup and mustard, said people with knowledge of that sale effort. DuPont bought Liqui-Box for about $333 million in 2002.
Spokesmen from DuPont, Goldman Sachs, Greenhill and Bank of America declined to comment.