Evonik advances

Waking the Chemicals Giant

The lights are shining at Evonik but the shares don't look as glossy. Source: Nico Kurth/DPA

By the time the Essen-based chemical company Evonik’s annual general meeting ended Tuesday, a long-planned change in leadership had taken place. Christian Kullmann is relieving Klaus Engel at the helm of Germany’s second-largest chemicals company during a decidedly tumultuous phase in the industry.

The industry is in the throes of merger fever. Nevertheless, the new boss could conceivably sit back and relax if he were to listen only to the words of his fellow CEO, Hariolf Kottmann, of Swiss rival, Clariant. The day before, Mr. Kottmann had justified Clariant’s planned merger with the US’ Huntsman Corporation, saying that the development of the chemical industry over the next couple of years would be driven primarily by companies with at least a $13 billion turnover. But where Clariant and Huntsman are going, Evonik has already been for some time.

But things are not that simple in the chemicals business. Size alone is no guarantee of success either.

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