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AkzoNobel, US rival Axalta halt merger talks

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Dutch chemical giant and leading global paint maker AkzoNobel said on Tuesday it had ditched merger talks with US rival Axalta which would have blended the two multi-billion dollar companies.

[THE HAGUE] Dutch chemical giant and leading global paint maker AkzoNobel said on Tuesday it had ditched merger talks with US rival Axalta which would have blended the two multi-billion dollar companies.

Despite "constructive discussions... AkzoNobel and Axalta ended their discussions without agreement," AkzoNobel said.

"AkzoNobel continues to focus on its strategy of accelerating sustainable growth through the creation of two focused high-performing businesses," it said in a short statement.

Bloomberg News reported Axalta is the world's leading maker of auto finish paints and the deal would have combined the two companies "with a market value of about US$30 billion".

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In past months, AkzoNobel has been fighting an increasingly bitter takeover bid by another US rival, Pittsburgh-based PPG, which would have valued the Dutch company at 26.9 billion euros (S$42.7 billion).

It has rejected three multi-billion-euro takeover offers from PPG, sparking a legal battle with an activist investor Elliott Advisors which had backed the tie-up.

Under Dutch law, PPG is now sitting out a six-month "cooling period" before it can make another bid for AkzoNobel - a deadline looming in January.

Analysts said a tie-up with Axalta would help fend off any new PPG bid and made more sense, as there was less risk of it being blocked by anti-trust authorities.

Formed in 1994 from the merger of the Dutch and Swedish firms Akzo and Nobel, AkzoNobel has a 46,000-strong workforce and operates in 80 countries around the world. Last year, it reported 14.2 billion euros in revenue.

But in April, the Amsterdam-based maker of such household paints as Dulux and Trimetal announced plans to spin off its speciality chemicals business within 12 months.

"We remain focused on our strategic options to continue to develop our business and improve profitability in the future," AkzoNobel's chief executive Thierry Vanlancker said in the statement.

Axalta, which has more than 150 years experience, is based in Philadelphia and employs 13,300 people, with customers in over 130 countries. Last year, it had net sales of US$4.1 billion.

In a separate statement Axalta confirmed it decided to end the talks as "the companies were unable to reach mutually agreeable terms." "Axalta continues to pursue other value-creating alternatives," it added.

"After pursuing a potential combination of Axalta and Akzo, we concluded we could not negotiate a transaction on terms that meet our criteria," Axalta chief executive and chairman Charles W Shaver said.

AFP

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