The recent wave of takeovers in the chemical industry seems to be moving in one direction: from east to west. Chinese firms are moving in on Europe, while European chemical companies – especially the German leaders Bayer, BASF, Evonik and Lanxess – are making acquisitions in North America.
However, the offer of the US paint company PPG for its Dutch competitor AkzoNobel is evidence that the direction can change.
It remains to be seen whether PPG can overcome the resistance being put up by Akzo’s management. But what is already clear is that the attack by PPG and the activist investor Elliott has shaken things up at the Dutch firm. Chief executive Ton Büchner has spun-off special chemicals and is issuing a €1 billion special dividend in a bid to shake off the pressure from America.