Ecolab Says $2.2B Champion Deal Close, Sees Strong Profits
Ecolab, Inc., announced Tuesday that it is close to receiving regulatory clearance for its planned $2.16 billion acquisition of specialty chemicals company Champion Technologies, Inc.,—a deal that has been under scrutiny from federal regulators due to antitrust concerns.
In conjunction with announcing substantial increases in fourth-quarter and full-year sales and profits, St. Paul-based Ecolab said that it expects to close on the Champion deal in the first quarter of 2013.
Ecolab in mid-October announced its intent to buy Houston-based Champion in a deal valued at $2.2 billion. But a few weeks later, it revealed in a regulatory filing that the U.S. Department of Justice had issued a “second request” for additional information and documentation related to the deal; such requests generally indicate government concern over potential anticompetitive issues. Then in early December, Ecolab announced that it had amended its acquisition agreement with Champion to exclude a unit that sells water-treatment chemicals to oil refineries—a move that Ecolab expected to alleviate federal regulators’ concerns. The amendment reduced the value of the planned transaction to $2.16 billion.
Ecolab said Tuesday that it has been working with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve the government’s antitrust concerns.
Meanwhile, the company reported substantial fourth-quarter sales and profits increases, largely due to its late 2011 acquisition of Naperville, Illinois-based water services giant Nalco Holding Company—a deal that was valued at $8.3 billion.
For the quarter that ended December 31, net income totaled $231.4 million, or 77 cents per share, up a whopping 161 percent from $88.7 million, or 34 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time gains and special charges related to the Nalco acquisition, fourth-quarter earnings rose 63 percent to $265.9 million, or 89 cents per share—in line with the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. (Analyst projections generally exclude one-time gains and charges.) Revenue for the quarter rose 65 percent to a record $3.04 billion.
For all of 2012, net income rose 52 percent to $703.6 million and revenue rose 74 percent to $11.8 billion.
Ecolab, which provides cleaning products, food safety services, pest control, and energy services for commercial and industrial customers, is among Minnesota’s 15-largest public companies based on revenue. The company’s acquisition of Champion is poised to make it a key producer of oil field chemicals and give it a strong position serving fast-growing shale oil production areas in Canada and the United States.
Shares of Ecolab’s stock were trading up 3.6 percent at $75.42 mid-Tuesday afternoon.