Huntsman and Switzerland’s Clariant to merge as $14B company

The Woodlands’ Huntsman Corp. and the Swiss company Clariant said Monday they plan to combine in a so-called merger of equals to create one of the world’s largest specialty chemicals companies.

The all-stock deal would create a $14 billion company called HuntsmanClariant. Huntsman CEO Peter Huntsman would serve as CEO with Clariant AG CEO Harold Kottmann as the chairman. Clariant shareholders would hold about 52 percent of the combined company, and both companies would have equal seats on the board.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. The combined company’s global headquarters would be in Pratteln, Switzerland, with operational headquarters in The Woodlands, the companies said.

Huntsman President and CEO Peter R. Huntsman, left,. and Hariolf Kottmann, CEO of Clariant, announce the merger of their companies Monday in Zurich. (Siggi Bucher/Keystone via AP)

“This is the perfect deal at the right time,” said Kottmann in a statement.

“Together, we will create a global leader in specialty chemicals with a combined balance sheet providing substantial financial strength and flexibility,” Peter Huntsman said in a prepared statement.

Huntsman has suggested in recent interviews that the company was considering such deals as a way to grow.

“We are probably more open to the idea of a potential merger than we would have been in the past,” Huntsman said in a previous interview. “This company is poised to expand, and I like to think mergers is one of those areas.”

Huntsman has a market capitalization value of $6.4 billion versus Clariant’s value of just more than $7 billion.

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The two companies combine to employ more than 32,000 people in over 100 countries. Huntsman accounts for about 15,000 people in more than 30 countries.

Locally, Huntsman employs 1,000 people in The Woodlands, including 300 at its nearby Advanced Technology Center. That’s not counting additional workers at Huntsman’s regional manufacturing facilities in Houston, Conroe, Alvin, Dayton, Port Neches and Freeport.

Huntsman is in the process of spinning off part of its company, primarily its pigments business, into a separate publicly traded entity, called Venator Materials Corp. The name comes from the Latin word for hunting to maintain the Huntsman family legacy.

Peter Huntsman has said that any mergers or acquisitions didn’t necessarily have to wait for the Venator deal to finalize.

Venator will primarily house its division that makes titanium dioxide, a chemical used to make pigments for paints, food coloring and other products.

The legacy Huntsman company, at the same time, has recently expanded plants in both Port Neches and Conroe to make more proprietary chemicals that go into laundry detergents, cosmetics, and other consumer goods.

After Huntsman went public in 2005, Peter Huntsman moved the family business from Utah, where it was founded by his father, Jon Sr., to The Woodlands, where it would be closer to its plants, customers and supplies of natural gas that provide the feedstock for petrochemicals.

The company hit it big more than more than 40 years ago making the cheap, plastic “clamshell” containers for McDonald’s Big Mac burgers, but now focuses more on the specialty chemicals, plastics, foams and composite materials that go into such things as Boeing airplanes, BMW cars and Nike shoes. Huntsman began the switch from common base chemicals to specialty products a decade ago.