Axiall Expands Takeover Talks as Westlake Mounts Proxy Fight

  • Vinyl maker discusses possible sale with multiple companies
  • Westlake tries to oust Axiall directors in June 17 vote

Vinyl maker Axiall Corp. is talking with multiple potential buyers as Westlake Chemical Corp. mounts a proxy fight to oust the board after its takeover bids were rejected.

Axiall’s board has authorized management to explore strategic alternatives, including a potential sale, the Atlanta-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Axiall said it has provided information to and held discussions with “a number of third parties,” while warning that no decision has yet to be made about a sale. The company didn’t identify any of the possible suitors.

Axiall is casting about as Westlake tries to replace nine of the company’s directors with its own nominees in a June 17 proxy contest. After Westlake’s unsolicited January bid was rejected, the company in March sweetened its offer to $1.6 billion, or $23.35 a share in cash and stock, which Axiall last month said was still too low. Each side blames the other for ending talks.

“As evidenced by the discussions with Westlake and other parties, the Axiall board remains committed to acting in the best interests of all Axiall stockholders, including considering a transaction involving the sale of Axiall,” the company said in the statement.

Westlake Push

Westlake on Wednesday urged Axiall shareholders to vote for its nominees, saying the company has asked Axiall to provide a constructive response to the takeover bid.

“Axiall’s refusal to provide any such feedback and continued refusal to negotiate has left us no choice except to press forward with our proposal to replace Axiall’s existing board of directors,” Chief Executive Officer Albert Chao said in the statement.

Axiall climbed 3.5 percent to $24.48 as of 10:33 a.m. in New York. Houston-based Westlake rose 1.6 percent to $49.75.

Morgan Stanley & Co. and Barclays are acting as financial advisers to Axiall and Jones Day is its legal counsel. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is the board’s counsel, according to Wednesday’s statement.

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