Sector News

Umicore to acquire cobalt-refinery and cathode-precursor activities in Finland

May 28, 2019
Chemical Value Chain

Umicore N.V. has reached an agreement to acquire Freeport Cobalt’s cobalt-refining and cathode-precursor activities in Kokkola, Finland, for a total consideration of $150 million on a debt and cash free basis, plus the value of the working capital to be taken over at closing, which at the end of March was approximately $40 million.

The transaction which is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, is expected to be finalized by the end of 2019 and will be funded from Umicore’s existing credit facilities. It is anticipated that the acquisition will be earnings accretive from 2020 and value accretive from 2021, after completion of the integration process and a significant reduction of the net working capital resulting from supply chain synergies.

Umicore is not acquiring the cobalt fine powders, chemicals, catalysts, ceramics & pigments activities located on the same site. These activities will continue to be run by Freeport Cobalt.

The acquisition of the Kokkola refinery and cathode precursor production marks an important step in expanding Umicore’s battery materials value chain. With R&D, refining, precursor production, cathode materials production and battery recycling operations located in Europe, Umicore will be ideally placed to serve the European operations of its battery cell and automotive customers with a fully integrated, sustainable and local battery materials supply chain. Through this European battery materials supply chain, Umicore will contribute significantly to the European Union’s plans to create a competitive and sustainable battery ecosystem in Europe.

The state-of-the-art Kokkola refinery is Europe’s largest cobalt refinery. Its refining and precursor know-how ideally complements Umicore’s and the expertise and experience of its 250 employees are highly regarded in the battery materials industry. The acquired operations will supply precursors for the cathode materials production in Nysa, Poland, which is due to start in the second part of 2020.

The Kokkola refinery will be supplied through Umicore’s long-term agreements which source cobalt raw materials exclusively from best in class industrial scale cobalt mining operations, which operate in full conformity with Umicore’s sustainable procurement framework for cobalt. These agreements fit with Umicore’s strategy to differentiate its offer by certifying to customers that its products do not contain any artisanally mined cobalt units and are free of any child labor.

By Gerald Ondrey

Source: Chemical Engineering

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