Huntsman Agrees To Apollo Takeover

Chemicals maker agreed to a $6.5 billion buyout offer, terminating an earlier deal to sell itself at a lower price to a Dutch company.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Chemicals maker Huntsman Corp. agreed to a $6.5 billion buyout offer from an affiliate of Apollo Management LP on Thursday, terminating an earlier deal to sell itself at a lower price to a Dutch company.

Apollo, through its Hexion Specialty Chemicals Inc. unit, had offered $28 a share in cash for Huntsman which had previously accepted a $25.25 a share offer from the Dutch manufacturer Basell AF.

Huntsman gave Basell until Wednesday to raise its bid but said Basell failed to do so.

''We had a deal and we were very comfortable with that. We stick with that deal,'' said Basell spokeswoman Patricia Vangheluwe.

Huntsman said it had authorized the payment of a $200 million breakup fee to Basell, which is controlled by U.S. industrialist Len Blavatnik's Access Industries Inc. Hexion funded half of the amount of the fee.

Huntsman's board approved the deal and has recommended that shareholders vote in favor.

Apollo Founding Partner Joshua J. Harris said the combined company will have annual sales of more than $14 billion and more than 21,000 associates and 180 facilities around the world.

Hexion Chairman and Chief Executive Craig O. Morrison noted the deal gives the company expanded reach in the Asia-Pacific region.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. Entities controlled by MatlinPatterson and the Huntsman family, which collectively own about 57 percent of Huntsman's common stock, support the deal.

''We have complementary businesses and, together, will have an even stronger technology platform from which to serve our customers.'' said Huntsman President and Chief Operating Officer Peter R. Huntsman.

Huntsman founder and Chairman Jon M. Huntsman added that a sale is in the best interests of the company's shareholders.

Hexion will have up to 12 months, subject to a 90-day extension, to complete the acquisition.

Huntsman shares dropped $1.17, or 4.2 percent, to $26.40 in morning trading. The stock has traded between $9.36 and $13.95 during the past 52 weeks.

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