in this issue
Chemical Finance Digest, May 31-June 3
2:41 PM MDT | June 6, 2011 | By VINCENT VALK
Topping the headlines last week, Ashland is acquiring International Specialty Products for $3.2 billion.
That wasn't the only big M&A deal last week, as Sealed Air agreed to buy Diversey for $4.3 billion. Meanwhile, Lanxess is reportedly in talks to buy Taminco, and Vinyls Italia is likely to broken up.
For the third week in a row, a biotech firm filed for an IPO – this time it was Myriant, offering shares worth up to $125 million.
New debt was issued by Airgas, which will use a new $250 million bond issue for "general corporate purposes," the company says. Moody's is rating the debt 'Baa2,' while S&P is rating it 'BBB,' both of which match Airgas' corporate credit rating. Airgas could use the debt for acquisitions, which "have been an integral part" of the company's strategy, notes S&P analyst Liley Mehta. In other news, both Moody's and S&P raised their ratings on Georgia Gulf one notch, to 'Ba3' and 'B+,' respectively. Moody's rating on Georgia Gulf is one notch higher than the comparable S&P rating. Moody's also changed Dow's ratings outlook to 'positive,' increasing the chance of an upgrade.
In macroeconomic news, the big number last week was 54,000 – the dismal May job creation figure reported by the U.S. government. The "economy's soft patch is proving even softer than feared," writes IHS Global Insight chief economist Nigel Gault, however, Gault continues to believe a double-dip recession to be unlikely. High commodity prices have put pressure on the fragile recovery, Gault notes, but that pressure has abated in recent weeks, meaning that steadier growth could resume. The U.S. consumer confidence index also fell 5.2 points last month, to 60.8.
Beyond CW, the jobs report has inspired some conflicting responses: On TV over the weekend, Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee noted that one month does not a trend make, while a blogger at The Economist pointed out that "by cutting too much spending in the short-term and turning the debt-ceiling fight into a political battle, Congress risks making a large unforced error."