There are new doubts over the eventual fate of the Polymer Products Division of Courtaulds plc after Akzo Nobel NV revealed it is bidding to buy the whole company.
In February, London-based Courtaulds announced a major restructuring, including a planned sale of its polymer units. Those units make plastic laminate toothpaste tubes, closures and high-performance film in Britain, Asia and the United States.
The company expected to raise £200 million to £300 million ($330 million to $500 million) from the sale of its smallest division.
But Akzo Nobel, based in Arnhem, the Netherlands, announced in early April that it is prepared to pay about £1.8 billion ($2.98 billion) in cash for Courtaulds.
In a statement, the Dutch group admitted that such a purchase would be in line with its strategy of boosting its position in the coatings industry. The two firms' fibers interests would be merged and Akzo would ``investigate the most appropriate means of spinning off'' the merged business.
Akzo has not revealed what plans it has for the polymer businesses if the bid is successful. Analysts suggest that the Dutch chemical group could hold on to the plastics section or follow Courtaulds' plan and sell it.
Courtaulds already plans to opt out of its European oriented polypropylene film joint venture with Hoechst AG of Frankfurt, Germany. The two companies merged their OPP film operations in 1995, with Hoechst holding a 72 percent share. The venture comprises Courtaulds' plants at Swindon, England, and Mantes-la-Ville, France, and Hoechst's unit at Neurkirchen, Germany. The plants have production capacity of more than 264 million pounds per year.
Courtaulds reported 1997 sales of almost £2.1 billion ($3.48 billion). Polymer product sales totaled £228 million, with operating profit of £19 million ($31.5 million).