Solenis is a new name on the South Bank following major merger

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 14 Mar 2019

A Grimsby chemical process plant is in new ownership following a global merger. 

BASF, on the South Humber Bank, has become Solenis, after the pair merged the paper and industrial water chemicals businesses, with the latter a specialist in the sector.

The combined company will have a $3 billion turnover, serving customers in pulp, paper, oil and gas, chemical processing, mining, biorefining, power, municipal and other water-intensive industrial markets

Headquartered in the US, specifically Wilmington, Delaware, Solenis emerged in 2014, from Ashland Water Technologies, but has legacy companies dating back to 1907.  

The first, EF Drew in Boston, Massachusetts, started out in the vegetable oil business but soon added water treatment.

John Panichella, president and chief executive of Solenis, pictured left, said: “Combining our strong heritages creates the leading customer-focused, global solutions provider for the paper and water industries. Customers from these industries will benefit from our joint strengths, resulting in an unparalleled and complementary range of products and services, state-of-the-art innovations and know-how.”

BASF, the German giant and a global leader in chemical production, will hold 49 per cent of the combined company, with 51 percent collectively owned by Solenis management and funds managed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. The new Solenis has approximately 5,200 employees, with increased sales, service and production capabilities across the globe.

Grimsby, together with a larger production site in Bradford, West Yorkshire, are the UK elements of the transferring BASF portfolio, with further sites in Virginia, USA; Altamira, Mexico; Ankleshwar, India; and Kwinana, Australia. 

The Grimsby plant - off Moody Lane where the new £8 million road is being created to link the town’s industrial zone and Stallingborough - was built in 1995 by Allied Colloids, a firm that was bought by Ciba for £1.4-billion in January 1998. BASF swooped in 2008, completing the deal in 2009. 

Anup Kothari, president of BASF’s Performance Chemicals division, said: “Joining forces with Solenis is the right step for BASF’s Paper and Water Chemicals business to maintain sustainable growth. Together, we will provide the broadest scope of products and services to meet the specialty chemical needs of the global paper and water industry.”

The highly automated site employs very few people, but is an important asset on a 50-acre site.

“Bringing together these two highly successful and complementary businesses creates an even stronger global enterprise with enhanced prospects for long-term growth and value creation,” said David Scheible, chairman of Solenis and operating advisor to CD&R.

The latest name on the South Bank is by no means the first US inward investor. This year marks 50 years since Conoco - now Phillips 66 - arrived, with Huntsman Tioxide having been in US ownership also. Surviving titanium dioxide manufacturer Cristal, during its time as Lyondell and Millennium, has transatlantic management, and while now in Saudi Arabian control, remains the subject of a prolonged acquisition attempt by Tronox. 

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