By Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German chemical groups Bayer <BAYGn.DE> and Lanxess <LXSG.DE> have agreed to sell integrated chemical site operator Currenta to Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) <MQG.AX> for an enterprise value of 3.5 billion euros (£3.2 billion).
That includes net debt and pension obligations and a related real estate portfolio that Bayer will transfer to Macquarie, the sellers said on Tuesday.
Reuters reported last September initial plans by Bayer to divest its 60% stake in the chemical park operator, part of a string of assets it has put on the block to slash debt since its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto last year.
It has recently sold consumer health brands Dr. Scholl’s and Coppertone and is looking for a new owner for its animal health business.
Chemical parks supply an industrial infrastructure such as electricity, steam, natural gas and services to producers.
Shares in Bayer and Lanxess gained 4.2% and 3.8%, respectively, at 0800 GMT after securing what analysts said was a better-than-expected price after months of negotiations.
Lanxess, which had initially intended to hold on to its stake, took in about 624 million euros in proceeds after a 20% tax deduction for an asset that was valued at zero on its balance sheet.
Lanxess shares were among the biggest gainers in German midcap index MDAX <.MDAXI>, with JP Morgan analysts seeing Lanxess benefit from increased flexibility for future acquisitions, higher payouts to shareholders and better pension funding.
MIRA has committed to not selling off parts of Currenta – a supplier of electricity, steam, natural gas and industrial services – over the next three years, the head of MIRA’s German business, Hilko Schomerus, told Reuters.
“We are convinced of the benefits of the integrated business model of the Currenta group,” he said.
He added the investment would offer adequate returns at low risks, with MIRA intending to hold on to Currenta for 10 to 12 years.
Bayer’s stake in Currenta fetched an equity value of about 1.17 billion euros after deducting net debt and pension obligations. In addition, Bayer agreed to sell real estate on which Currenta operates for 180 million euros.
Lanxess, a maker of lubricant additives, drug ingredients and leather-tanning chemicals, said it secured a service and supply agreement with MIRA for an initial 10 years, for “reliable infrastructure at competitive conditions” at its main German production sites.
“The sale of our stake will give us additional financial leeway to drive forward our growth course in specialty chemicals,” said Lanxess CEO Matthias Zachert.
Bayer had initially planned to sell the Currenta stake – a legacy asset with little benefit for its core drugs and agriculture businesses – to its former industrial chemicals subsidiary Covestro <1COV.DE>, but could not agree on a valuation.
Covestro and Lanxess <LXSG.DE>, both former Bayer businesses, are Currenta’s main customers.
Reuters reported in March that Macquarie had emerged as the leading bidder for Bayer’s stake, beating out rival suitors DWS <DWSG.DE> and KKR <KKR.N>.
(Additional reporting by Hans Seidenstücker in Frankfurt; Editing by Jan Harvey and Matthew Lewis)