By Dana Mattioli and Dana Cimilluca
LyondellBasell Industries NV has made a takeover approach to Braskem SA, according to people familiar with the matter, eyeing a deal that could value the Brazilian petrochemical company at well over $10 billion.
The talks are at an early stage, the people said, and there is no guarantee there will be a deal.
Should there be one, it would be substantial: Braskem on Monday had a market value of about 37 billion Brazilian reais ($11.4 billion) and nearly as much debt. LyondellBasell had a market value of about $40 billion.
It would also be the second-largest Brazilian M&A deal, according to Dealogic. There has only been one double-digit-billion dollar deal in the country, according to the data provider's records: a $43 billion acquisition of oil-and-gas assets by Petrobras, announced in 2010.
LyondellBasell and Braskem operate in similar product lines but different geographies. Products include polyethylene, which is used in everyday items such as garbage bags and milk jugs. A deal would also give LyondellBasell access to faster-growing Latin American markets.
LyondellBasell is a Netherlands-based chemicals-and-polymer producer with a big presence in Houston. It was formed in 2007 when Dutch chemical company Basell International Holdings BV paid $12.7 billion to buy Houston-based Lyondell Chemical Co. The deal loaded the company with more than $20 billion in debt just before global commodity markets tumbled in the global financial crisis. A little more than a year after the merger, LyondellBasell filed for bankruptcy.
It emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 after eliminating about $5 billion in debt. Ukrainian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik's holding company, Access Industries, is a significant backer. Recently, executives of the chemical company have indicated they have a big M&A appetite.
Braskem is co-owned by state oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, and construction firm Odebrecht SA, which owns just over half of the voting shares. The company, which says it is the biggest producer of polypropylene in the U.S., had sales of 55.5 billion reais last year.
The chemicals sector has been a hotbed of merger activity of late. On Monday, Akzo Nobel NV and U.S. rival Axalta Coating Systems Ltd. said they are in talks to join forces in a merger of equals that would create a multibillion-dollar coating and paints giant.
Earlier this year, Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. completed their roughly $60 billion merger, which they expect to follow with a three-way breakup. Last year, industrial-gas giants Praxair Inc. and Germany's Linde AG agreed to combine.
Write to Dana Mattioli at [email protected] and Dana Cimilluca at [email protected]