Polypore International Inc., a major maker of energy storage membranes and separation media, is being sold in two parts.
Asahi Kasei Corp. agreed to buy the company's energy storage portion, while the separation media business will be sold to 3M Co.
Polypore's shareholders approved the deal at a special May 12 meeting, according to Asahi Kasei. Charlotte, N.C.-based Polypore officials were not immediately available to comment on the Tokyo-based firm's statement.
Immediately before Asahi Kasei finalizes its Polypore deal, 3M will acquire the separation media unit for about $1 billion. Total value of the two-part sale is about $3.2 billion, a per-share premium of about 24 percent over Polypore's average share price for 20 days up to Feb. 20. The companies first announced the sale agreement on Feb. 23. The boards of all three companies approved the deal but completion of the sale is subject to regulatory and other approvals. Asahi Kasei agreed to a cash merger for the deal.
Polypore's energy storage business encompasses battery separators for mobile and portable energy. The technologies include microporous polyethylene and polypropylene films used in lithium-ion batteries as well as films for lead-acid batteries. The firm's energy storage segment comprises subsidiaries Celgard for lithium-ion batteries and Daramic for lead-acid batteries. Major markets for lithium-ion batteries are portable electronic devices, power tools and electric drive vehicles. Several years ago Celgard invested heavily to take advantage of anticipated growth in electric and hybrid vehicles.
Asahi Kasei, a diversified chemical giant, said the battery separator deal “is a compelling fit” to its electronic materials business. Its stake in electronics includes its Hipore lithium-ion battery separator and photosensitive film to make wiring boards and liquid crystal display panels. Its lithium battery separator production sites are in the United States, South Korea and China. Its lead-acid battery separator manufacturing is done in the United States, Thailand, France, Germany, India and China.
In other lithium-ion technology, Asahi Kasei recently agreed to sell its interest in a lithium-ion capacitor joint venture to its partner FDK Corp. of Tokyo. LIC is a hybrid electrochemical energy storage device. Asahi Kasei said LICs are losing out to other energy storage devices.
Polypore's separation media are microporous membranes and hollow-fiber membranes used in medical applications such as hemodialysis and for industrial and specialty filtration in water treatment, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and other applications. The business segment is Polypore's Membrana subsidiary.
Polymers typically used in microfiltration membranes include cellulose acetate, polysulfone, polyethersulfone, polyvinylidene fluoride and polyamide. Inorganic membranes are also employed.
Polypore has manufacturing plants and sales offices in nine countries.
3M is a diverse consumer and industrial products company based in St. Paul, Minn. Its lineup includes filtration membranes for industrial uses.
Polypore President Robert Toth noted in a news release that the businesses for sale should grow when combined with the purchasers' global reach and broader resources.
“The environment and energy is an area of strategic focus for us as we expand and grow,” stated Asahi Kasei President Toshio Asano.
“The combination of 3M and Polypore's separations media business will help us meet customers' emerging needs for high-value filtration solutions,” explained 3M executive vice president Michael Roman in a news release.
Polypore's sales for the quarter which ended April 4, were $137.9 million, down 14.3 percent from 2014's first quarter. Energy storage sales at $90 million were 17.6 percent lower and separation media sales of $47.9 million were 7.5 percent off the previous year's pace. Overall operating income in the latest quarter was $20.2 million, down 31.3 percent due to declines in electronics, transportation and separation media.