Thursday, 22 June, 2017

Akzo Nobel unveils plan to separate chemicals arm, pay special dividend

528006738 PPG Industries building in Downtown Pittsburgh Getty Images Corbis DocumentaryPPG Industries building in Downtown Pittsburgh
Melissa Porter | 20 April, 2017, 06:33

The Netherlands-headquartered company rejected two offers from PPG last month, the second valuing it at €22.4bn (£19bn), and has been facing pressure from shareholders, led by activist hedge fund Elliott, to engage in talks with PPG.

AkzoNobel, which employs 3,000 staff across the United Kingdom, is hoping the new plan will win the favour of investors left disgruntled by the firm's decision to snub talks with PPG Industries following its second takeover tilt worth 22.4 billion euro (£19.5 billion).

Akzo Nobel AKZO.AS , the Dutch paint-maker struggling to avoid a 24.6 billion euro (20.58 billion pounds) takeover by US rival PPG Industries Inc PPG.N , on Wednesday reported better than expected operating profit for the first quarter.

Sales of such household brand names as Dulux and Trimetal were up 7 percent to 3.7 billion euros, the company said in a statement, as it announced plans to spin off its specialty chemicals division within 12 months.

Investors and analysts have largely been skeptical of whether Akzo's alternative plan can rival PPG's proposed offer of 90 euros per share in terms of value.

While PPG has said it sees merger synergies of at least $750 million, Akzo said on Wednesday it would cut costs by 200 million euros in 2017, of which 50 million would result from the separation of chemicals.

AkzoNobel said it's so confident in the plan that it's issuing a €1. Ton Buchner, chief executive, said the strategy would create "substantial value" for shareholders but refused to comment on job losses, saying some investors had responded positively to the plan.

Akzo has been fending off criticism from shareholders over its refusal to discuss a deal with the American predator and unveiled an ambitious turnaround strategy that was supposed to put shareholder concerns to bed.

"What happened today was a game changer", he said.

Dulux paint-owner AkzoNobel has reported a "record performance" for its first quarter as it continues to resist a hostile takeover attempt by a USA rival. On average, analysts forecast that Akzo Nobel will post $1.42 earnings per share for the current fiscal year. The stock has risen 39 per cent since the PPG bid became publicly known on March 9. The basic materials company reported $0.24 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter.