ICI Hangs ‘For Sale’ on Uniqema


Specialty chemical supplier ICI Group announced last week that it will try to sell oleochemical subsidiary Uniqema in order to focus on other priorities. Uniqema manufactures surfactants and synthetic base stocks used in the lubricants and other industries, as well as specialty products such as compressor oils and refrigerator lubricants sold under the Emkarate brand.

ICI, formally known as Imperial Chemicals Industries PLC, announced its plan for Uniqema Thursday as part of its report of the parent companys financial results for 2005. ICI management stressed that it is pleased with Uniqemas performance, especially its ability to generate cost savings since ICI announced a company-wide restructuring program in 2003.

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ICI stated that Uniqema management has identified a range of additional restructuring options but that they would require significant investment. The parent company indicated it would rather focus capital spending on its other subsidiaries where it sees opportunities for greater financial returns. As a result, it will try to divest Uniqema, if it finds a buyer willing to pay what the company is worth.

Based in Gouda, Netherlands, Uniqema is a major global producer of esters used as base stocks and as additives in lubricants. It operates seven ester plants – two each in the United States and the United Kingdom and one each in Germany, the Netherlands and Malaysia. It has three plants that produce polyalkylene glycols. The lubricant additives it supplies include surfactants and emulsifiers used in metalworking fluids and friction modifiers used in automotive lubricants.

Uniqema also supplies the personal care, food and beverage, textile and agrochemical industries. It had sales of 631 million British pounds (U.S. $1.1 billion) in 2005, essentially level with 2004. Earnings rose 6.8 percent to 47 million pounds.

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