Carlyle Group Buys Atotech from Total

Carlyle Group has beaten rival private equity groups to reach a $3.2 billion deal with Total for the French firm’s Atotech chemicals business.

The sale will take the energy group closer to its target for $10 billion of disposals by the end of 2017. Total and its rivals are all looking to shed non-core assets in response to continued weakness in the prices of oil and gas.

Carlyle faced competition from CVC Capital Partners and a consortium of BC Partners and Cinven, according to those who were played a part in the process.

Asset disposals have become a key part of efforts by Total and other major oil firms to shore up their balance sheets and defend their dividends since crude prices fell two years ago.

Last week’s deal raised Total’s proceeds from disposals since the start of last year to $8.6 billion — which is more than 80% of the $10 billion target set for the end of next year. Analysts have speculated that this figure may be revised upward.

Among the other Total assets up for sale are parts of its North Sea oil and gas portfolio. A queue of major energy firms are trying to reduce exposure to one of the oldest and highest-cost offshore basins in the world.

However, weak oil prices have made upstream exploration and production companies difficult to offload as potential buyers are seeking fire-sale prices while sellers are holding out for a so-far elusive recovery.

Recent deal activity has been heavily concentrated in mid and downstream assets such as pipelines, refineries and marketing businesses, along with chemicals units such as Atotech.

Analysts said the $3.2 billion sale price for Atotech — 11.9 times 2015 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation — was in line with expectations. The Berlin-based business makes chemicals for circuit boards and semiconductors used in electronics.


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