Reports of rumored sale of DuPont’s coatings business resurface

August 15, 2012

As this issue went to press reports surfaced from several news sources again regarding the rumored sale of DuPont’s coatings business. The reports came as DuPont released its second quarter results, which saw sales drop in its performance coatings division by 1.5 percent in the quarter from last year. Reuters said DuPont received three final bids in an auction for its vehicle paint unit that could sell for $3.5 billion. DuPont primarily sells paint to the big US car manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.

The final bidders are said to include private equity firms Carlyle Group, Apollo Global Management, and a consortium of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Onex Corp, while Blackstone Group and Bain Capital have dropped out, sources told Reuters.

During a conference call reporting second quarter results, DuPont’s chief executive Ellen Kullman rebuffed queries about the deal. The company has remained steadfast in its denial of the rumored sale and has never publicly acknowledged that it is in discussions with possible buyers.

Reuters and other news outlets initially reported that the Wilmington, Delaware-based company had in October 2011 started working towards the divestment of its performance coatings’ division and in February this year hired Credit Suisse as adviser and Greenhill & Co to handle the sale.

DuPont had in late February started preliminary auction process for sale, and in April asked private equity firms that had placed bids to team up and make new offers after initial bids did not meet its expectations according to reports.

The private equity groups had earlier held talks with the management of DuPont and raised concerns about the earnings assumptions made by the company for the business, as well the steady decline of volumes of selling paint to auto body shops.

The performance coatings division, including the powder-coating unit, had revenues of $4.2 billion in 2011.

Reuter’s said DuPont’s board was expected to meet to consider the bids as this issue went to press. The bidders declined comment as well.