Johnson Matthey says that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the battery materials business of Clariant for $75 million. The transaction, which is expected to be completed in early 2015, covers all of the assets of Clariant’s energy storage business including its manufacturing facility at Candiac, QC, an R&D center and pilot plant at Moosburg, Germany together with the customer order book and a substantial intellectual property (IP) portfolio.
The energy storage business of Clariant, which employs about 100 people, is a leading supplier of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode material to the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery sector for both automotive and non-automotive applications. In 2013, Clariant’s energy storage business generated sales of 16 million Swiss francs ($16.9 million), and made an operating loss.
“The divestment of the energy storage business with its LFP technology is part of our focused portfolio management and reallocating capital towards our core areas,” says Hariolf Kottmann, CEO of Clariant.
As part of the transaction, Johnson Matthey will gain rights to basic patents on LFP and its use as a cathode material, as well as a number of other important patents relating to LFP. In addition, Johnson Matthey is acquiring a portfolio of IP covering current and future battery materials from Clariant and a well established R&D group.
The acquisition enables Johnson Matthey freedom to operate within the field of LFP cathode materials as supplier to an established base of customers in a market with strong growth potential, the company says. In addition, the combination of Clariant’s Canadian manufacturing operations and the LFP production plant at Changzhou, China that Johnson Matthey acquired from A123 in September 2014 will allow the company to optimize its LFP manufacturing capacity to best meet customers’ needs.
“The acquisition of Clariant’s battery materials business provides us with a strong position in LFP from which to develop a broad portfolio of battery materials,” says Robert MacLeod, CEO of Johnson Matthey. “It enhances our battery technologies business, complementing our recently acquired battery materials manufacturing assets and our expertise in battery systems. These, together with our continued investment in battery materials R&D will support our work to develop the next generation of higher performance products that can meet the challenging energy storage requirements of batteries for the automotive sector,” MacLeod says.
Following completion of the acquisition, Johnson Matthey’s two battery materials acquisitions will be integrated into a single entity, Johnson Matthey battery materials. This entity, together with the battery systems business, will make up Johnson Matthey’s battery technologies business. The company expects the battery technologies business unit to generate annual sales in excess of £100 million ($161 million) by 2016 and break even excluding integration costs in that year.
By Deepti Ramesh