Umicore, Sinochem expected to bid for Total’s Atotech, say sources: Reuters

Chemicals groups Umicore (UMI.BR) and Sinochem (600500.SS) are among the groups interested in German surface finishing and metal plating company Atotech, put on the block by France’s oil giant Total (TOTF.PA), people close to the matter said.

Total has asked for preliminary bids for the unit, which is expected to fetch more than 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion), by a Tuesday deadline, the sources added.

Arkema (AKE.PA) – a former Total subsidiary – and BASF (BASFn.DE) have looked at Atotech but are seen as unlikely bidders, while buyout groups such as CVC [CVC.UL], Cinven[CINV.UL], BC Partners [BCPRT.UL], Advent, Bain and Carlyle (CG.O) are expected to present offers.

The potential bidders declined to comment or were not immediately available to comment.

Total hired Barclays (BARC.L) in June to organize the sale of Berlin-based Atotech, which generates annual sales of about $1 billion from the manufacture of speciality chemicals and equipment for printed circuit boards and semiconductors.

The industrial specialty chemicals sector has seen a number of mergers and acquisitions recently as buyers pay rich premiums for high margin business to offset sluggish growth in their established markets.

Germany’s Evonik (EVKn.DE) bagged the specialty and coating additives operations of U.S. industrial gas producer Air Products and Chemicals (APD.N) for $3.8 billion or more than 15 times expected 2016 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

Germany’s BASF, the world’s largest chemical producer, agreed to buy Albemarle Corp’s (ALB.N) surface-treatment unit Chemetall for $3.2 billion, also an earnings multiple of more than 15.

People familiar with the company have said they expect Atotech to generate EBITDA of 250 million euros this year and that Total has told potential bidders it would accept no offers below 12 times that in a sale.

Total hopes to fetch a similar multiple as the 13.9 times core earnings that U.S. peer Platform (PAH.N) paid for its acquisition of Alent last year.

Atotech is Total’s sole remaining speciality chemicals unit after the sale of Bostik to Arkema in 2014.