ICI pays pounds 560m for US speciality chemicals unit

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The Independent Online
ICI yesterday stepped up its expansion into specialty chemicals with the pounds 560m cash purchase of US-based Acheson Industries.

The move is the second big acquisition this year for ICI, which has just spent pounds 350m buying Williams's European Home Improvement business.

ICI, which makes Dulux paint and Polyfilla cement, will combine Acheson with National Starch and Chemical, a business it bought last year.

Acheson makes materials used in electronics for televisions, computers, medical systems and telephones. It had 1997 sales of $189m (pounds 112.5m) and earnings of $46m before interest and tax.

ICI now joins Laporte, Britain's fourth biggest chemical maker, in expanding its electronics industry supply business. This industry has generated consistently higher returns than ICI's mainstay commodity chemicals.

"It's a profitable industry with long-term massive growth still to come from electronics and computers," said Philip Morrish, analyst with Nikko Securities in London.

ICI first made a significant move into specialty chemicals and materials last year with the $8bn purchase of Unilever NV divisions including Quest International and National Starch.