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Investor opposition spikes merger for chemical maker with Charlotte hub

Peter Huntsman, President and CEO of Huntsman, left, speaks next to Hariolf Kottmann, CEO of Clariant, right, during a press conference, in May. Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant and The Woodlands, Texas-based Huntsman Corp. called off their merger Friday.
Peter Huntsman, President and CEO of Huntsman, left, speaks next to Hariolf Kottmann, CEO of Clariant, right, during a press conference, in May. Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant and The Woodlands, Texas-based Huntsman Corp. called off their merger Friday. AP

Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant and Texas’ Huntsman Corp. on Friday announced they were jointly calling off their merger, citing opposition from an activist investor.

Clariant has its North American headquarters in Charlotte, where it has 190 employees at its Monroe Road office.

Huntsman CEO Peter Huntsman and Clariant CEO Hariolf Kottmann issued a joint statement in which they said they remained convinced the marriage of the two chemical companies announced in May would have been in the long-term interest of shareholders.

“However, given the continued accumulation of Clariant shares by activist investor White Tale Holdings and its opposition to the transaction, which is now supported by some other shareholders, we believe that there is simply too much uncertainty as to whether Clariant will be able to secure the two-thirds shareholder approval that is required to approve the transaction under Swiss law,” they said in the statement. “Under these circumstances and in light of the high level of disruption and uncertainty that has been created for both companies, we have jointly decided to terminate the merger agreement.”

The termination agreement does not include a break-up fee for either company.

The all-stock deal would have created a combined company with a market value of $13.8 billion. The resulting company would have been named HuntsmanClariant, with stock exchange listings in both Zurich and New York.

The combined company was set to have a global headquarters in Pratteln, Switzerland and operational headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas, where Huntsman is based. Clariant’s CEO would have become HuntsmanClariant’s board chairman while Huntsman’s CEO would have kept the same title in the combined company.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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