HOECHST OUTLINES PLAN TO SEPARATE UNITS

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SUMMIT, N.J. — In a move to evolve into a management holding company, Hoechst AG of Frankfurt, Germany, is ``unbundling'' its chemical businesses to make them separate operating units.

The move will make Hoechst Technical Polymers a distinct operating unit with sales of nearly $2.5 billion, said Bernd Sassenrath, head of Hoechst Technical Polymers. Sassenrath spoke Dec. 12 in an interview at his company's U.S. headquarters in Summit.

``The divisions of Hoechst AG will be independent companies that will have opportunities to arrange financing for themselves through a variety of capital offerings,'' he said.

``This will give us a company with a reasonable size, with the right range of products and key resins in the high-end markets for engineering thermoplastics.''

The separation should make HTP more flexible, the company said. It will be able to launch new businesses, such as the Dyneon Corp. venture it established in fluoropolymers with 3M Corp., or to broaden its range of polymers.

``We have a very strong technical foundation,'' he said, adding that new complementary resin products could be added to HTP's technical line-up, though he did not specify what types.

HTP now produces acetal, PET and thermoplastic polyester, ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene, polyphenylene sulfide and liquid crystal polymer resins.

In a joint development effort with Mitsui Petrochemical Co. of Tokyo, Hoechst Technical Polymers is developing cyclo-olefin copolymer resins, a new family of thermoplastic products to be targeted at medical and film applications. Those products will be introduced commercially in several months under the tradename Topas.

Hoechst AG's operating units are expected to begin splitting up this year, he said. The changes are subject to approval by Hoechst's shareholders, who will consider them at their annual meeting in May.

Sassenrath hopes the increased independence Hoechst is giving its units does not make them targets for takeovers.

Separately, he said the individual companies will have the option — under their own management — to raise capital through stock offerings on world markets. However, he noted that while that is an option, it is not a main purpose in rearranging the business units.