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Major distributors in further portfolio moves

The world’s two largest speciality chemical distributors, Brenntag and Univar Solutions, have both concluded further acquisitions, disposals and deals in 2021. This follows on from numerous such advances by their rivals, Azelis and IMCD, in 2020.

Brenntag is to acquire an initial 67% of speciality food ingredients Zhongbai Xingye Food Technology (Beijing), giving it an enterprise value of about €90 million. This should be completed within 1H and Brenntag will acquire the rest by the end of 2024. The Chinese firm, which had sales of about €146 million in the 12 months to June 2020, will become part of the Brenntag Specialties division.

Separately, Brenntag has acquired ICL Packed, a UK subsidiary of Industrial Chemical (ICL) that specialises in the distribution of packaged chemicals for water treatment and turned over £11 million in 2020. This includes a supply agreement with ICL, which makes caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, iron and aluminium coagulants, and sodium hypochlorite.

This all came shortly before Brenntag completed the process of transitioning from a German stock corporation (Aktiengesellschaft) to a European company, or Societas Europaea (SE), thus reflecting its increasingly international form. The move had been approved by both boards in 2019 and agreed by shareholders last June. The company remains based in Essen, with the same structure.

Meanwhile, Univar has agreed to sell its Distrupol subsidiary to GPD Companies, its former Nexeo Plastics affiliate which now belongs to private equity firm One Rock Capital Partners. The deal, for which terms were not disclosed, should complete within 1H.

The sale continues Univar’s focus on chemicals, which was subsequently underlined by an agreement to become the primary national distributor of Sasol Chemicals’ alcohol and surfactant products in the US and Canada. This adds the South African firm’s Alfol alcohols, and Alfonic, Novel and Safol surfactants for multiple end uses to its range.

In addition, growing German-based multinational distributor Oqema has purchased a majority stake in Austria-based CB Chemie. Founder Dr Christian Braunshier retains a minority share and will continue as a managing partner. Terms were not disclosed.

The firm, which was founded in 2016, focuses on construction, paints and coatings and has a subsidiary in the food industry that. Oqema said that CB Chemie “is a perfect complement … and will promote synergies in the food and life science sector, especially in Germany, Switzerland and Austria”.

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