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Ferro retaining banker, sale of company a possibility

May 10, 2016
Chemical Value Chain

Ferro says it has retained investment bank Lazard (New York) to advise its board on “exploring strategic alternatives for the company.” A Reuters report on Friday said that Ferro is considering a sale of the company, and such “strategic alternatives” usually include a sale. The report said an auction is underway for Ferro, including bidding by companies and private equity firms.

During Ferro’s most recent quarterly investor call on 27 April, CEO Peter Thomas indicated that the board is open to a sale, but would be careful about valuations. “We’re not afraid of a transaction, [but] we don’t want another value transaction,” Thomas said. “We understand the intrinsic value of what this is worth. We look at tactical options.”

In March, activist hedge fund FrontFour Capital (Greenwich, CT) released a letter advocating a sale of Ferro. The letter recommended that Ferro’s board “publicly pursue strategic alternatives.” Reports of private equity interest in Ferro emerged at the same time, including rumors of an initial approach by Apollo Management (New York).

Shares in Ferro spiked after the Reuters report emerged on Friday, 6 May. The company shares have traded at around $14 in early trading on Monday.

Ferro has undertaken a portfolio reshuffling since Thomas took the helm in late 2012, spurred by activist investor pressure and an unsuccessful hostile bid from A Schulman in early 2013. The company has sold its specialty plastics and polymer additives businesses, as well as some smaller business lines; and made multiple acquisitions in specialty coatings and pigments.

By Vincent Valk

Source: Chemical Week

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