Plaform to Buy Agrochemicals Maker for $3.51 Billion

Platform Specialty Products Corp., the chemicals company backed by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, agreed to acquire agricultural-chemicals maker Arysta LifeScience Ltd. for $3.51 billion in its largest purchase.

Arysta, which makes insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, is being sold by funds controlled by private-equity firm Permira Holdings Ltd., Miami-based Platform said today in a statement. The deal is expected to close in January and be funded with cash on hand, convertible equity and debt, Platform said.

Platform Chief Executive Officer Daniel H. Leever is making the third acquisition of a farm-products company as he builds a portfolio of specialty chemicals. Platform is in active talks to make more purchases as it targets eight high-margin segments ranging from oilfield services to coatings, Leever said.

“There are literally hundreds of attractive candidates that we can pursue,” Leever, who is also vice-chairman, said on a conference call with analysts. “We are highly confident we will be able to execute on this build-up strategy in the specialty chemical arena.”

Arysta, with sales of $1.54 billion in 2013, will be combined with Chemtura Corp.’s agrosolutions unit and Agriphar SA to create a crop-chemical business with $2.18 billion of revenue, Platform said in a presentation.

Crop Chemicals

The crop-chemicals unit will represent 75 percent of Platform’s sales and will be led by Arysta CEO Wayne Hewett, who becomes a Platform president.

Platform, founded by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen and Chairman Martin E. Franklin, has made four acquisitions in just over a year. The company, which trades in New York, first sold shares to the public in May 2013 in London.

The Arysta acquisition is the largest in the agrochemicals industry since Russian fertilizer maker OAO Uralkali bought OAO Silvinit for about $6.6 billion in 2010, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Platform rose 6.6 percent to $25.90 as in New York. The shares have gained 85 percent this year. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP is the largest investor with a 28 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Chemtura Deal

In October last year, Platform purchased closely held U.S. specialty chemicals company MacDermid Inc. for $1.8 billion. In April, it agreed to acquire Chemtura’s agrochemicals business for about $1 billion. It bought Agriphar for 300 million euros ($383 million) earlier this month.

Platform was advised by Credit Suisse Group AG, Barclays Plc, UBS AG and Nomura Securities Holdings Inc. and law firms Greenberg Traurig LLP and Kane Kessler PC. Barclays, Credit Suisse, UBS and Nomura are also providing financing for the acquisition.

Morgan Stanley was lead financial adviser, JPMorgan Chase & Co. was co-financial adviser, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP was legal counsel for the Permira funds.

Arysta is based in Dublin, according to a company filing. Platform said today’s deal won’t affect its own status as a U.S.-domiciled company.

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