Albemarle sells flame retardants and speciality chemicals businesses to Huber

By Myles McCormick
Published: Monday, 21 December 2015

Albemarle continues to hone focus; Huber expands geographic reach.

NYSE-listed chemicals producer Albemarle Corp. is to sell its mineral flame retardants and speciality chemicals businesses to rival Huber Engineered Materials (HEM).

Following the signing of a definitive agreement between the two companies in mid-December, HEM, a subsidiary of the privately-owned JM Huber Corp., will take control of Albermarle’s Martinswerk GmbH flame retardants subsidiary in Bergheim, Germany and its 50% stake in MAGNIFIN Magnesiaprodukte GmbH, a joint venture with RHI AG based in Breitenau, Austria, which produces magnesium hydroxide. 

When the deal closes, expected in early 2016, HEM will own the Martinal precipitated and ground alumina trihydrate and Magnifin premium precipitated magnesium hydroxide brands, along with a number of speciality chemicals products, including Martifin specialty hydrates for paper, Martoxid aluminum oxide primarily for ceramics, Pergopak flatting agents primarily for coatings and Compalox granulated activated alumina.

Albemarle previously indicated its intention to hone the scope of its business interests to focus on its bromine, lithium, catalysts and surface treatment businesses.

"We continue to execute our plan to sell non-strategic businesses and assets which will allow Albemarle to enhance our focus on growth opportunities within our core businesses," said Albemarle’s CEO, Luke Kissam.

In November it sold its Tribotecc metal sulphides business to Treibacher Industrie AG.

HEM, meanwhile, said that acquiring the new product lines will complement its existing portfolio of fire retardants and smoke suppressants while expanding its geographic reach.

The acquisition is the fourth and largest addition to HEM’s fire retardant additive business over the past five years.

Earlier this year, it bought the Safire nitrogen and phosphorous flame retardant technology from Floridienne Group and Catena Additives. In 2012, it purchased Almatis’ speciality hydrate flame retardant business and in 2010, it acquired Sherwin Williams’ Kemgard flame retardant and smoke suppressant business.

HEM produces alumina trihydrate, magnesium hydroxide, molybdate compounds and nitrogen and phosphorus products for a number of applications, including reinforced polyester molding and pultrusion, engineering thermoplastics, roofing, silicone rubber, wire and cable, coatings and carpet backing.

It has been in the flame retardants and smoke suppressants business for 30 years. 

The deal will close in early 2016, subject to standard conditions. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Albermarle on the transaction.