M&As: Ashland completes sale of composites business; Continental invests in Israeli AI firm for autonomous driving systems

M&As: Ashland completes sale of composites business; Continental invests in Israeli AI firm for autonomous driving systems

Chemical firm Ashland Global Holdings Inc. says it has completed the previously announced sale of its composites business (excluding the maleic business) and butanediol manufacturing facility in Marl, Germany to Ineos Enterprises in a transaction valued at US$1.015 billion.

Net proceeds from the sale are approximately US$930 million. Over US$400 million of debt has been retired and an additional US$500 million is expected to be retired by the end of the week.

"The sale of our Composites and Marl businesses allows Ashland to focus on our vision of becoming the premier specialty chemicals company," said Bill Wulfsohn, Ashland Chairman/CEO. "We believe this transaction, when combined with our cost reduction program, will help better position Ashland to deliver sustained earnings growth and significant value for shareholders.”

Ashland is a global specialty chemicals company serving customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including adhesives, architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, nutraceuticals, personal care and pharmaceutical. It has 4,000 employees serving customers in more than 100 countries.

In other news, German technology company Continental has acquired a minority stake in Israeli Cartica AI, which develops algorithms for accelerating machine learning systems for object recognition. Against the back of the growth of automotive biometrics identification (forecast to surpass US$300 million by 2024), the technology could be used to enable automated and autonomous driving systems to more rapidly adapt to and handle new traffic situations.

Continental uses AI technologies to provide advanced driver assistance systems with object recognition, and says systems for object recognition have previously needed extensive manual training, with every traffic situation and object on the road classified and designated by a human. The integration of Cartica AI’s technology will significantly reduce this manual work, Continental says.

“Continental’s investment in Cartica AI underscores its strategy of becoming an AI-empowered company,” states Continental Head of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Demetrio Aiello. “To this end, we already rely on nearly 500 AI experts within the company. In addition, we have established an intensive scientific network in the field of AI through our partnerships with international research institutes. The investment in Cartica AI as a risk capital provider now forms the third pillar of our activities in the AI environment. This is where we support promising AI companies.”

By making Cartica AI’s software available to the entire automotive industry and distributing advanced driver assistance systems worldwide, Continental plans to promote the rapid adoption of AI for safe mobility.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


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