Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd. has agreed to buy acrylics major Lucite International Ltd. of Southampton, England, for $1.6 billion.
The companies announced the deal Nov. 11, and it is scheduled to close by the end of January.
Lucite, formed from the acrylics interests of ICI plc and DuPont Co., has been majority owned by London-based Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP since 1999.
A major producer of methyl methacrylate monomer with a new low-cost route to the feedstock, Lucite is also a leading player in acrylic products, covering both sheet and molding materials. Its trade names include the familiar Perspex brand.
Mitsubishi Rayon also focuses on MMA and its derivatives, although it uses a different chemical route to the acrylic feedstock.
In a news release, Lucite said the deal ``will make Mitsubishi Rayon the global leader in this market and confirms its position as the leading acrylics manufacturer in the fast-growing Asian markets.''
Combining the two firms will give the Japanese company, currently the No. 4 player globally, a 35 percent share of the world acrylics market.
Mitsubishi Rayon has been expanding its existing MMA plants in Japan, China and Thailand, and building new ones in Thailand and South Korea.
In 2007, Lucite International had sales of £849 million ($1.7 billion) and operating profit before exceptional expenses of £67 million ($134 million).
In a news release, Lucite Chief Executive Officer Ian Lambert credited Charterhouse with investing the necessary capital in Lucite to enable the company to build new facilities in China and to develop its new monomer technology, which is based on ethylene, methanol and carbon monoxide, rather than the conventional acetone, hydrocyanic acid and isobutylene path.
This month, Lucite started a MMA plant in Singapore that uses the new technology.