BASF makes $4.9 billion hostile bid for Engelhard

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Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The BASF-Hochhaus in Ludwigshafen, Germany
The BASF-Hochhaus in Ludwigshafen, Germany

BASF has made a $4.9 billion hostile bid for Engelhard Corp. Engelhard is a US based supplier of pollution control devices such as catalytic converters, which it invented. Engelhard holds 35% of the world market on such pollution control devices. The bid is $37 a share in cash and may be increased by $1 a share.

BASF has over $4.79 billion for acquisitions after it sold Basell NV plastics in August.

If the acquisition goes through it will be the biggest ever hostile takeover of a US company by a European firm according to Bloomberg.

Engelhard shares have surged above the offer price on the news to about $38 a share. Some speculate Dow Chemical Co., the largest US chemical maker, will make a competing offer.

"Dow has an automotive materials business like BASF, and is diversified like BASF so that it could use all the pieces" said John Roberts, a Buckingham Research analyst.

US regulations going into effect in 2007 are tighter on emmissions. This will increase the demand for Engelhard's catalytic converters. Limits are getting tighter in the EU and Japan as well.

Dow Chemical declined to comment on the bid or the possibility of the corporation making a bid, stating "it's Dow's policy not to comment on speculation regarding possible investment opportunities".