German specialty chemicals maker Evonik to buy JM Huber's silica unit for $630 mn

German specialty chemicals company Evonik Industries AG yesterday struck a deal to buy JM Huber Corp's silica unit for $630 million in order to expand its technology-driven silica business.

Essen-based Evonik plans to finance the deal from existing reserves and credit lines.

The deal comes six months after Evonik acquired the specialty & coating additives business of Air Products and Chemicals for $3.8 billion. (See: Evonik to acquire specialty & coating additives business of Air Products for $3.8 bn) Evonik expects to generate synergies of $20 million in its latest deal, largely in the areas of production, logistics and procurement as well as through merging the product portfolio of the acquired business.

New Jersey-based JM Huber is one of the largest, family-owned businesses in the US. It was founded in 1883 by Joseph Maria Huber, an immigrant from Germany. Today, the company has a broad product portfolio ranging from specialty chemicals to the forestry sector. Huber employs about 4000 people in 20 countries, including about 700 employees in the silica business at six locations.

Huber's business is especially focused towards applications in the consumer goods industry, the dental sector for example. To date, Evonik's silica business has been focused rather on industrial applications, like the tire and coatings industries.

''Combining the complementary silica businesses of Evonik and Huber will strengthen an important pillar of our portfolio,'' said Christian Kullmann, executive board member for Strategy at Evonik. ''Also, Huber Silica is an excellent regional fit with its focus on the US, China and India.''

Evonik has a leading position as a supplier of silica for tire manufacturers and the paint and coatings industry. Evonik's silica products are also being applied as flow additives and carriers for the manufacture of foodstuffs, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and silicones.

Its competitors in silica include Belgium's Solvay, US-based PPG Industries and Taiwan's OSC Group.