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Huntsman, Bain Capital dealing

Huntsman offering $600 million equity stake to venture firm

Published: Saturday, Feb. 24 2001 12:00 a.m. MST

Huntsman Corp. Friday announced a deal in which venture capital firm Bain Capital Inc. will invest more than $600 million in Huntsman.

Huntsman will use more than half of that to buy the remaining 30 percent it doesn't own in London-based Imperial Chemicals Industries. Huntsman bought a majority interest in ICI in June 1999, a $2.8 billion acquisition that made Huntsman the third-largest chemical company in the United States.

Salt Lake-based Huntsman essentially doubled its size with that mega-deal. The company formed a new partnership with ICI, with Huntsman owning 70 percent and ICI 30 percent. Under the new arrangement, Huntsman will own all of ICI, but Bain Capital, based in Boston, will now own a minority equity stake in Huntsman Corp.

Bain Capital is the firm Salt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney founded and worked at before accepting the SLOC post early in 1999. SLOC spokeswoman Caroline Shaw said Friday that Romney is on leave of absence from his position as Bain Capital's chief executive officer.

"He had nothing to do with this specific transaction," Shaw said. "His efforts are currently completely committed to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee."

Huntsman spokesman Don H. Olsen agreed that "this transaction had nothing to do with (Romney)."

In a prepared statement, Jon M. Huntsman, chairman and founder, said the new capital from Bain will allow his privately held company to continue the 30 percent average annual growth it has enjoyed over the past 15 years.

"Together (Huntsman and Bain) see significant potential for consolidation . . . in the global chemical industry and look forward with great anticipation to future investment opportunities. We are confident that Huntsman and Bain Capital will have a long and mutually beneficial relationship."

Of the $600 million capital Huntsman will receive from Bain, $390 million of it will be used to buy the remaining 30 percent of ICI.

Huntsman doesn't often offer equity stakes in his company, but Olsen said it's not unprecedented.

"We are a private company, and we raise capital in the way we feel is the most efficient way to do it," he said, noting that years ago Great Lakes Chemical had a minority stake in the company.

Huntsman has occasionally sold company assets to raise money for his charitable work, such as the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, but Olsen said the company remains committed to the aggressive growth it has pursued in the past, usually by acquisitions of such companies as ICI.


E-mail: max@desnews.com

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