Bain to buy Rhodia unit for $550m

Boston-based equity house Bain Capital has agreed to purchase the phosphates business from the French specialty chemicals group.

Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital has agreed to buy Rhodia’s North American phosphates business for $550 million (€458 million).

The sale by Rhodia, a global specialty chemicals group based in Paris, will be the final divestiture in its restructuring program. The North America subsidiary manufactured phosphoric acid and phosphates for industrial applications, including food, pharmaceuticals, water and metal treatment and detergents. The unit’s 2003 sales totaled €400 million, according to a press release.

This is the second chemical business transaction this month involving a private equity firm. Last week New York-based private equity firm Apollo Management agreed to acquire certain business and product lines from Eastman Chemical for $215 million (€175 million), as the Tennessee based diversified chemicals manufacturer is also looking to spin off various units and improve profitability.

Bain’s proposed purchase of the Rhodia unit also marks the firm’s second foray into the specialty chemicals market in the past six months. In December, Bain beat rivals to acquire industrial chemicals distribution business Brenntag, auctioned off by Deutsche Bahn, for €1.4 billion.