Berkshire Hathaway to acquire Lubrizol

Financial company, Berkshire Hathaway is to acquire 100 per cent of all outstanding shares in chemical company The Lubrizol Corporation for $135 (£84) per share in an all-cash transaction.

The transaction is valued at about $9.7billion, making it the largest acquisition in Berkshire Hathaway history.

‘Lubrizol is exactly the sort of company with which we love to partner – the global leader in several market applications run by a talented CEO, James Hambrick,’ said Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chief executive. ‘Our only instruction to James – just keep doing for us what you have done so successfully for your shareholders.’

Lubrizol produces lubricant additives for engine oils, other transport related fluids and industrial lubricants, fuel additives for petrol and diesel, and ingredients for personal care products and pharmaceuticals. After the close of the transaction, Lubrizol will continue as a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

Roche acquires PVT

Chemical company, Roche, is to acquire PVT Probenverteiltechnik GMbH based in Germany. Roche will pay PVT shareholders €65 million (£56 million) upfront, and up to €20 million upon reaching performance-related milestones. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

PVT is a global market leader in providing customised automation and workflow solutions for in vitro diagnostic testing. It will become one of the competence cntres inside Roche for the development and manufacturing of automation products.

The newly acquired automation capabilities will strengthen Roche’s growth and competitive edge in laboratory core business, which had an estimated market size of $15.3 billion in 2009.

First opinion on restriction proposals under Reach

The committee for risk assessment (RAC) of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), has adopted its two first opinions on restriction proposals under the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (Reach) regulations, submitted by France.

It its meeting on 8-11 March, RAC considered restrictions on dimethylfumarate (DMFu) and lead. It agreed that there is a serious risk to consumers from the use of articles treated with DMFu and that the suggested restriction on the production and placing on the market of articles containing DMFu is appropriate to reduce risk to consumers.

The committee also considered that lead contained in jewellery may contribute to the exposure of children to lead by them putting it in their mouths, and therefore restricting lead in jewellery is appropriate.

In a parallel meeting, the committee for socio-economic analysis (SEAC) agreed on draft opinions for the same restriction proposals.

BASF sells shares in K+S for €1billion

Chemical giant BASF has placed about 19.7 million shares of K+S Aktiengesellschaft, with institutional investors at a price of €50 a share, which represents 10.3 per cent of the company’s share capital.

The total amount from the transaction is about €1billion. BASF achieved a capital gain before taxes of about €900 million from the sale.

Chemical companies remain offline in Japan

Following the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeast of Japan on 11 March, many of the country’s chemical companies report that their plants remain offline. Leading Japanese chemical producers do not report substantial damage to their facilities, but are keeping their plants offline as a precaution and as a result of power outages.

Most of the shutdowns are in Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures, on the coast, to the east of Tokyo.

Pfizer to reinvent itself?

Pharma giant Pfizer might be considering a radical cut to 40 per cent of its business, in order to place itself in a better position for future growth and to reinvent itself as an undiluted pharmaceutical research business.

After years at the top, Pfizer could lose its position as the biggest pharma company in the world as it fights with patent losses on some of its best selling drugs next year. The drugs in question include Lipitor (atrovastatin), Protonix (pantoprazole) and Viagra (sildenafil).

Pfizer has already made a lot of cost-cuts over the last six months in a bid to reduce global R&D spend. Indeed, one move was to close the Pfizer site, at Sandwich in the UK, which employs 2400 people.

It has been reported by the BBC that Pfizer has now found 10 companies that would like to take over the space. According to the BBC, Pfizer has signed confidentiality agreements with the companies and will call for an enterprise zone to be established in and around the site.

Mike Brown

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