Carlyle Group buys DuPont car-paint division for $4.9B

DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman is divesting older units so it can be "the world's most dynamic science company."
DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman is divesting older units so it can be "the world's most dynamic science company." (B. BOWER / AP)
Posted: September 01, 2012

Private-equity behemoth Carlyle Group stepped into the Philadelphia region again Thursday by agreeing to pay $4.9 billion for the automotive and industrial paint division of DuPont Co., which is based in Wilmington.

DuPont Performance Coatings makes or sells paints in 70 countries and has 11,000 employees worldwide, including about 600 in the Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey region. It was unclear Thursday how many might lose their jobs when the unit shifts to Carlyle after the deal closes in early 2013 - or how many remaining with DuPont might be laid off in the future because of the divestiture.

Washington-based Carlyle agreed in July to buy the Sunoco oil refinery in South Philadelphia, and also owns Malvern-based chemical-maker PQ Corp., among its Philadelphia-area industrial properties.

DuPont has made paint for cars for decades, and other divisions will continue to sell other components to the automobile industry, but it has been divesting older businesses that it projects will have less growth in the future.

The unit had $1.1 billion in second-quarter sales, down 1 percent from a year ago. The agriculture division is DuPont's biggest revenue generator, with $3.4 billion in second-quarter sales.

Chief executive officer Ellen Kullman said in a statement that DuPont wanted to be "the world's most dynamic science company," with innovative products in agriculture and nutrition, advanced materials, and biotechnology.

A Carlyle spokeswoman could not immediately comment about the employment prospects for current workers.

In a joint statement, DuPont and Carlyle said Carlyle would pay $4.9 billion in cash and would assume $250 million in unfunded pension liabilities attached to the division.

"DuPont Performance Coatings is a technology innovator, and we look forward to building on its strong market presence to accelerate growth in emerging markets, particularly in China and Brazil," Gregor Böhm, the managing director and cohead of Carlyle's Europe Buyout team, said in a statement.

Bloomberg estimated that Carlyle has agreed this year to acquire at least $16 billion in assets, more than the other largest private-equity firms, Blackstone Group L.P. and Apollo Global Management L.L.C.

DuPont shares closed Thursday at $49.58, down 36 cents, or 0.72 percent.


Contact David Sell at dsell@ phillynews.com or 215-854-4506.

Inquirer staff writer Joseph N. DiStefano contributed to this article.

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