Ecolab to Acquire High Growth Company for $3.7 Billion
Ecolab’s headquarters in St. Paul

Ecolab to Acquire High Growth Company for $3.7 Billion

Purolite offers resin technology and services that are used by drug manufacturers, the food and beverage sector, and many industrial companies.

In a huge boost to its life sciences division, Ecolab announced Thursday it has reached a deal to acquire Pennsylvania-based Purolite for $3.7 billion.

Purolite provides ion exchange resins that are used in separating and purifying solutions. It employs more than 1,000 people and operates in more than 30 countries.

“Purolite is an acquisition that brings us a fast-growing leader in biopharma and industrial purification solutions with very strong margins,” said Christophe Beck, Ecolab’s president and CEO, in a written statement.

“With this transaction, we will significantly increase our opportunities in our high growth, high margin life sciences business, such as the purification of mRNA vaccines and monoclonal antibodies for cancer-treatment drugs,” Beck said. “By combining Ecolab’s state-of-the-art capabilities in clean and safe processing with Purolite’s revolutionary resin technology, we will provide a comprehensive and game-changing offering that will make the customer’s end-product better, safer, healthier and more effective.”

St. Paul-based Ecolab forged this transaction at a time of robust merger and acquisition activity in many sectors. Ecolab is paying Purolite $3.7 billion in cash. It’s using about $800 million in cash from its balance sheet, and it’s financing the rest with low-cost debt. “We expect to realize tax benefits with an estimated net present value of approximately $300 million,” the company said. “Returns are expected to be significantly above our weighted average cost of capital.”

Purolite’s sales total for 2021 is expected to be about $400 million. Purolite has a large technical sales team, and it operates five research and development centers and four manufacturing facilities.

This acquisition is subject to regulatory clearance, and Ecolab anticipates the transaction will close in the fourth quarter of 2021. Ecolab will operate Purolite as a separate global business unit. Its financial results will be reported within the life sciences division of Ecolab. But it has a customer base that is broader than the life sciences.

The Purolite transaction, Beck said, “will further expand our capabilities in industries that are complementary to our already existing leading positions, such as the polishing of advanced microelectronics, ultra-purification of water in nuclear power, food and beverage taste and product quality enhancement, high-end precious metals extraction, like lithium for EV batteries, as well as in the production of hydrogen fuel cells.”

During 2020, Ecolab produced $11.8 billion in net sales, which was an annual decline of 6 percent in the wake of the pandemic. Because of losses from discontinued operations, Ecolab lost $1.2 billion last year. Excluding those losses, Ecolab recorded $967 million in net income from continuing operations.

For the third quarter of 2021, Ecolab’s net sales were $3.3 billion, up 10 percent from the previous year’s third quarter. Net income jumped 32 percent in the third quarter to $324.5 million.