Ecolab to sell deepwater product line to Clariant to gain antitrust approval of Champion acquisition (updated)

21:37 PM | April 8, 2013 | Robert Westervelt

Ecolab has entered into a consent agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding Ecolab’s previously announced $2.3-billion acquisition of Champion Technologies. The agreement requires Ecolab to divest certain assets and license technology that serves customers in US Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling to Clariant. Ecolab now expects to close the Champion acquisition by 15 April.

Under the consent agreement, Ecolab is required to sell Clariant the patent for Champion’s best-selling production chemical in the deepwater Gulf, exclusive licenses to all other production chemicals used by Champion in the US Gulf, and the option to buy additional assets, including Champion’s deepwater production chemical blending and distribution facility in Broussard, LA. The settlement also provides Clariant with an extensive right to hire the merged firm’s relevant personnel, who possess essential expertise and know-how, according to DOJ.

“Ecolab’s subsidiary, Nalco, and Champion are currently the largest and second-largest providers of production chemical management services to deepwater wells in the US Gulf of Mexico and have vigorously competed against one another,” says Leslie Overton, deputy assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s antitrust division. “The proposed remedy will preserve competition to provide these critical services, which support efficient production of oil and gas in deepwater environments.”

Ecolab says the agreement impacts less than 3% of Champion’s business, and that it will be able to continue to serve customers in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico region using its existing Nalco products. "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the DOJ on this matter,” says Douglas Baker, Ecolab's chairman and CEO. “The reasons we were attracted to Champion in the first place remain solidly in place. Champion strengthens our position in the fast-growing oil and gas services industry. It bolsters our ability to better serve customers by bringing important and complementary geographic and technology strengths to our global energy business—particularly in the upstream production area.” Baker says the acquisition will add approximately 7 cts/share to 2013 earnings, rising to 50 cts/share by 2016.

Champion had 2012 revenues of $1.3 billion and has 3,200 employees in more than 30 countries.