German speciality chemicals group Degussa said last week that its majority owners the energy group E.ON had settled complaints which threatened the completion of the takeover bid by mining and technology group RAG.
Degussa management board chairman Prof. Utz-Hellmuth Felcht said: "We are pleased that clarity now exists with regard to RAG as our future majority shareholder. From the very outset RAG has assured the Degussa Management Board that it will support our successful growth strategy and business development and maintain Degussa as an independent, publicly listed company."
In summer 2002, a clear majority of Degussa's free-float accepted RAG's offer of €38 per Degussa share. At present, a 46.48 per cent stake in Degussa has been tendered to RAG during the takeover offer period. RAG intends to raise its stake to 50.1 per cent in a second step on 31 May 2004.
At the same time, the European Commission is to investigate a planned joint venture between the company and fellow German chemicals group Celanese in which they will transfer their activities in the area of propylene-based oxo chemicals (used mainly as chemical intermediates, solvents and plasticisers).
A preliminary examination has identified competition concerns in a number of markets where the combined entity would have very high market shares, said the Commission.
The joint venture will merge the commercial, technical and operational C3-oxo business activities of Celanese in Oberhausen, Germany, with those of Degussa's Oxeno subsidiary in Marl, also in Germany.
The Commission said the joint venture would have market shares of between 40 and 55 per cent of the products concerned in Europe, well ahead of competitors BASF of Germany, Perstorp Oxo of Sweden and Atofina of France. A conclusion will be reached in four months time.
Degussa has sales of €12.9 billion and is Germany's third-largest chemical company, and the world's leading speciality chemicals supplier.