What a story to have waiting in my email box when I returned to the states: last fall, Dow Chemical Co. pursued a deal to acquire DuPont Co. The story is on the New York Times' Web site, featured in a double-barreled lead about how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating events that led Dow to fire two senior officials, Romeo Kreinberg and J. Pedro Reinhard, over alleged unauthorized M&A talks.
Last fall, Dow made an overture to acquire DuPont in a deal worth more than $40 billion, according to people involved in the talks. If the approach had ultimately led to a deal, it would have combined the largest and third-largest chemical companies in the United States. ExxonMobil is No. 2. Shares of Dow and DuPont traded somewhat erratically at the time, though neither company disclosed the approach. From September to December, shares of DuPont climbed 15 percent. DuPont rebuffed Dow's advances and never engaged in negotiations, these people said. Dow's chief executive, Andrew N. Liveris, sits on the board of Citigroup with Alain J. P. Belda, the chief executive of Alcoa, who at the time of the overture was also a director of DuPont; Mr. Belda stepped down from DuPont's board in March. Dow declined to comment. A DuPont spokeswoman did not return a call last night seeking comment.It doesn't look like Dow is in a good position to make a big purchase like DuPont right now. It looks like top Dow executives might be tied up in investigations and lawsuits for several months, if not longer. But if things clear up later this year, what other target might Dow want to pursue?