M&As: Henkel invests in US coatings firm; Celanese completes sale of Polyplastics for US$1.5 bn to Daicel

M&As: Danimer Scientific to merge with Live Oak; to trade as public listed firm

Henkel Adhesive Technologies has further enhanced its market offerings for functional coatings by investing in Actnano, Boston, Massachusetts, US. The advanced materials start-up provides a unique tailored conformal coatings technology for the protection of printed circuit boards in a variety of applications in growing electronics segments. Henkel co-invested into Actnano as part of a consortium led by Emerald Technology Ventures, where it is a Limited Partner. Terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 2012, Actnano has developed a unique commercialised technology for gel-based coatings with comprehensive waterproofing and environmental resistant properties. The materials are designed to provide superior protection to printed circuit boards including connectors, antennas, LED´s and all mounted components and provide benefits in a broad variety of fast-growing automotive electronics and consumer electronics applications. The liquid applied coatings offer a drop-in solution for existing coating lines and enable customers to increase throughputs and to significantly reduce the production costs per device. The technology is hydrophobic, electrically insulating and allows electrical connection through the coating. Together with Henkel the start-up aims to further optimize.

“As part of our venturing activities we are looking for novel and scalable formulated technologies providing unique benefits for growing markets”, explains Paolo Bavaj, Head of Corporate Venturing, Adhesive Technologies. “Functional coatings are a major focus topic for our Adhesive Technologies business,” he added.

“These days, electronics run the car. We make sure the electronics keep running even after the coffee spills,” said Taymur Ahmad, CEO of Actnano. “When automotive electronics like autopilot systems interact with water or other environmental aggressors the consequences can be dire. With the recent explosion of self-driving and technology-laden vehicles, a better solution for protective coatings was needed. Actnano responded, creating a hydrophobic, electrically insulating coating that allows electrical connection through the coating. Since connections have historically had to remain uncoated and thus vulnerable to water damage, this innovation is an industry gamechanger.”

Meanwhile in other news, speciality chemical firm Celanese Corporation has completed the sale of its 45% equity investment in the Polyplastics joint venture to partner Daicel Corporation for US$1.575 billion, as originally announced in July.

Through this transaction, Celanese monetized a historically passive investment and expects to deploy the proceeds from this all-cash transaction into higher value-generating opportunities. These include the previously announced increase in share repurchases that will be accretive to EPS to offset earnings from the Polyplastics joint venture, investments in organic growth, and other judicious uses of cash consistent with Celanese’s disciplined capital deployment strategy.

As noted in the 20 July 2020, announcement, Celanese has been investing in and rapidly growing its own Engineered Materials base business globally over the last ten years, independent of Polyplastics, with a footprint in Asia significantly greater now than when the company entered the region more than 50 years ago through Polyplastics. The sale of Polyplastics is an intentional departure from a legacy relationship to a more contemporary approach to independently drive future growth, advance application development with customers, and pursue high-return expansion opportunities for the benefit of Celanese and its customers.

“Celanese is well-positioned to continue its growth trajectory as we increase investment in new product development to serve customer demand in growth segments and key geographies,” said Tom Kelly, Senior Vice President, Engineered Materials, Celanese. “We will continue to invest in product expansion to serve the growing demand in applications such as 5G, advanced mobility, medical/pharma, and sustainable materials. Celanese also plans to expand its manufacturing capacity and advance its T&I capabilities in Asia to meet rapidly growing demand in the region.”


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