Rockwood to Sell Clay-Additives Unit to Altana for $635 Million

Rockwood Holdings Inc., the world’s largest producer of lithium products, said it will sell its clay-based additives business to Germany’s Altana AG for $635 million.

The unit, which makes additives used in products such as industrial coatings and household-care products, had net sales of $191.4 million last year, Princeton, New Jersey-based Rockwood Holdings said yesterday in a statement.

Rockwood Holdings agreed to sell its German ceramics unit CeramTec to Cinven Ltd. for 1.49 billion euros ($1.98 billion) last month to focus on its metal business and return cash to shareholders. In February, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Seifi Ghasemi said he was exploring options for three of the company’s five units.

The sale to Altana “is another step forward in the implementation of our long term business strategy to maximize shareholder value,” Ghasemi said in yesterday’s statement.

The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter, Rockwood said. Lazard Ltd. is Rockwood’s financial adviser and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP are its legal advisers.

Altana, in a separate statement, said the acquisition brings growth opportunities and that it will expand the acquired business in Asia. Sales are expected to reach 1.9 billion euros with the acquisition, up from more than 1.7 billion euros last year, according to the statement.

The unit employs about 340 workers at four sites in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

Previous Bid

Wesel, Germany-based Altana is owned by billionaire Susanne Klatten. Altana was looking at buying parts of Rockwood after it abandoned a bid for the whole company in 2008.

“There are parts that interest us and parts that don’t interest us,” Chief Executive Officer Matthias Wolfgruber, said in an interview in April at Altana’s headquarters. “When a specialty chemicals asset comes on the market, we will look at it and if we have an interest we will join the bidding.”

Shares of Rockwood Holdings fell 69 cents to $66.09 in New York trading on July 26. The stock is up 34 percent year to date.

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