Private equity readies debt to buy Akzo’s Specialty Chemicals: Reuters

Private equity firms looking to bid for Akzo Nobel’s (AKZO.AS) Specialty Chemicals business, which could be valued at up to 9 billion euros, will be offered debt financing of up to 6 billion euros ($7 billion), people close to the situation said.

Bankers said leveraged loans and high yield bonds in euros and dollars are all being considered in advance of the Dutch paint maker kicking off the expected sale of the business this month. The divestment is part of a strategy it committed to in order to thwart a takeover by U.S. rival PPG Industries (PPG.N).

Akzo, which may still opt for an initial public offering of the unit if a listing commands a higher valuation, wants to receive first-round bids by the end of the year with the aim of finalizing a deal by March 2018.

Buyout group CVC has teamed up with rival KKR to make an offer and they will compete with a consortium comprising Advent and Bain, while Carlyle, Apollo and Blackstone may all put forward bids on their own, the sources said.

“Carlyle may have a slight advantage in this process as it had discussed an asset swap of (former portfolio company) Axalta with Akzo before the Axalta IPO,” one of the sources said.

All the prospective bidders declined to comment while Akzo Nobel spokesman Leslie McGibbon said that the “dual track sales process is going ahead” but declined to give further details.

Bankers advising potential buyers said they expect Specialty Chemicals to sell at an enterprise value of 8-9 times the unit’s expected earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Specialty Chemicals reported EBITDA of 953 million euros in2016 and its recently appointed CEO Theirry Vanlancker has forecast EBITDA increases of around 50 million euros per year through 2022.

Last month Akzo warned it would miss a 2017 target for the group as a whole of a 100 million euro operating profit increase due to worsening business conditions.

It did not alter its forecast for Specialty Chemicals, which accounts for about a third of Akzo’s sales and profits.
Shareholders, many of whom were angered by Akzo’s rejection of PPG’s 26.3 billion euro offer, largely support the sale of the chemicals division

The company plans to call a extraordinary shareholder meeting before the end of the year to update investors.