Ecolab Buys Its Second Chemical Company In Less Than A Year

Deal consolidates two competing chemical companies under one umbrella

 @angeloyoung_a.young@ibtimes.com
on October 12 2012 9:35 AM

Ecolab Inc. (NYSE: ECL), the St. Paul, Minn.-based maker of products for the industrial, health care, food service and hospitality industries, announced Friday it plans to acquire Champion Technologies Inc. for $2.2 billion.

The parties said the deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

The news comes nearly a year after Ecolab took over Nalco Holding Co. (NYSE: NLC) of Naperville, Fla., one of Champion’s primary competitors in the market for chemicals used to clean wells and boost output, in a $5.4 billion deal.

With the Champion acquisition, Ecolab is well-positioned as a provider of chemicals for drilling in the bustling U.S. market for natural gas hydraulic fracking, or extracting gas from deep undergound. Competitors include Houston-based Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) and Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), also based in Houston.

"We think Champion looks like a solid fit strategically. The deal will add to Ecolab's energy services business, acquired from Nalco in late 2011," Jeffrey Stafford, an analyst for Morningstar, said in a research note.

Champion, of Houston, says it has about 3,300 employees and reported $1.2 billion in sales last year. It’s the main primary operating company owned by Permian Mud Service Inc., which includes CorsiTech, maker of drilling fluids, lubricants and pumping, asphalt, mining and agricultural additives. Both operations are being acquired in the deal.  

“While we have similar expertise, our customers, geographic focus, technology and products complement one another,” said Steve Lindley, Champion chairman and president of CorsiTech, in a statement.

Ecolab says the deal will allow it to acquire a dependable steam of revenue.

“Like our current Nalco Global Energy Services business, Champion offers very attractive growth and an annuity-like revenue model generating steady and predictable earnings patterns similar to our legacy Ecolab businesses,” said Douglas M. Baker, Jr., Ecolab's chairman and CEO, in his statement.

Champion, a privately held Louisiana-based company, had been seeking a buyer and had hired Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. and Lazard Ltd. (NYSE: LAZ) as financial advisors, Bloomberg reported.

Ecolab shares rose $2.07 cents to $65.77, more than 3 percent, in Friday trading.

The company, which employs over 40,000 people, has seen its stock price climb nearly 14 percent this year.

Notable developments during this time include the acquisition in March of Econ Indústria e Comércio de Produtos de Higiene e Limpeza Ltda., a Brazilian cleaner and sanitizer for the food services industry. In June the company renewed its partnership with China’s state-owned Food and Drug Administration Institute for Executive Development to participate in the agency’s five-year effort to improve food safety.

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