KaMin LLC is to buy Imerys’ US-based global
ultrafine paper hydrous kaolin (UPHK) business to bolster
its expertise in kaolin and boost its product offering.
In a statement, KaMin said that "the parties have agreed not
to disclose any financial details of the transaction".
The UPHK business is part of Imerys’ recent
acquisition of BASF’s paper hydrous kaolin
Under the terms of the agreement, Imerys will retain all of
the non-UPHK business from the BASF transaction.
KaMin said that Imerys had reviewed all the available
strategic options for the UPHK operations and concluded that
the deal offered the "best option for a smooth and efficient
transition of the existing UPHK customers".
Imerys said that KaMin could provide a "sustainable
long-term source supply of ultrafine kaolin for these
KaMin is a global kaolin specialist with production
facilities in the US and in Brazil.
A KaMin spokesperson told IM that the UPHK
is primarily supplied to customers in Europe and
"This acquisition fits perfectly with our core competencies
in ultrafine kaolin and KaMin is well positioned to supply
quality product and superior support to the UPHK customer
base", said KaMin president, Harlan Archer.
Imerys’ kaolin activities, which generated
€480m ($522m*) in revenue in 2014, are based in the US, in
Brazil and in the UK.
Over the next few months KaMin will be aiming to close the
acquisition, which is expected to be finalised by 31
In November, Germany-headquartered chemicals company BASF
has completed the divestment of its global PHK business to
Under the terms of the agreement, BASF will continue to
produce and supply PHK products to Imerys for a period of time
determined by the French company to ensure a smooth transition
for customers, BASF told IM.
A spokesperson for Imerys told IM that the
acquisition is an opportunistic move rather than a strategic
"Through this operation, we intend to improve our service
offering to the paper industry via an optimisation of our
production," the spokesperson said, "It does not mean that we
are focusing on paper. By doing it, we are improving our
profitability by better loading our production capacity."
"We have taken action to make our business fit for the
future," BASF’s vice president of global business
management for kaolin, Dr Shane Porzio, said.
"Several key markets for kaolin are experiencing declining
demand, including graphical paper, ceramic proppants and
refractories," a spokesperson for BASF told IM
in October. "The market for graphical paper continues to
decline as e-media becomes ever more popular. Kaolin, whether
used as a filler or as a coating pigment in graphical paper,
accompanies this decline."
The company stressed that the sale does not signal a
complete move away from the paper business, saying: "BASF
continues to be a leading global supplier to the paper industry
and offers a wide range of products for paper manufacturing and
BASF’s PHK business is expected to generate
revenue of $60m for Imerys on a full-year basis.
According to UK-based industry consultant Ian Wilson,
BASF’s divestment to Imerys is indicative of
continued industry consolidation in addition to the limited
growth displayed by the paper industry. He is also more
conclusive about what the decision means for
BASF’s involvement in paper chemicals.
"They are keeping their calcined clay division, but Imerys
is very much in the driving seat here," Wilson told
IM. "For BASF though, this does signify a
total move away from paper and this is a very significant
Declines in kaolin
The use of kaolin in paper has been declining over the last
few years as electronic devices become more popular in
As a result of the declining end markets for kaolin, a
number of companies have decided to move away from production
of the mineral and refocus attention on more profitable
Non-paper applications tend to expand at close to GDP levels
and these are the areas that are likely to show key growth in
the future, in addition to hydrous and calcined kaolin for
industrial applications as well as kaolin for process
catalysts, according to BASF.
*Conversion made December 2015