IHS Chemical Week


Chemical Finance Digest, Mar. 19-23

3:20 PM MDT | March 26, 2012 | By VINCENT VALK

Topping the headlines last week, share buybacks and dividends are increasing as chemical companies continue to run up large cash balances. Over 60% of cash flow from operations was returned to chemical company shareholders in 2011, according to a new report.

In M&A news, Agrium is planning to buy Viterra’s agricultural retail business in Canada and Australia for about $1.16 billion. The deal is pending the closure of Glencore’s acquisition of Viterra, a grain handler. Reuters says that the deal makes Agriuma ‘a quiet winner’ in the $6 billion-plus Glencore-Viterra deal, and Moody’s has confirmed Agrium’s ‘Baa2’ credit rating in light of the announcement.

Meanwhile, electronics giant Sony is selling its chemical business, and urethane films maker JPS Industries is considering a sale.

Omnova’s earnings for the fiscal first-quarter soared, to $12.7 million, or 28 cts/share, on improved pricing and a favorable product mix.

In debt news, Momentive Performance Materials has entered into a $175 million senior secured first lien term loan maturing in 2015. S&P has rated the term loan ‘B,’ higher than Momentive’s ‘B-‘ corporate credit rating. Seperately, NewMarket has requested that S&P withdraw the company’s credit ratings. NewMarket had been rated ‘BB+’ by S&P.

The week ahead will the latest revision of U.S. fourth-quarter GDP figures. Consensus is for 3% growth, unchanged from prior estimates.

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