Blog - Surfactant related news and opinion

Cleantech Chemicals & Energy

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There’s a lot happening in cleantech now – impacting energy and chemicals. First, on Thursday December 9th, Con Edison, the CM&E Group of the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers are sponsoring the 5th annual Energy and Resources Conference. I am privileged to hold a board seat on the ACS CM&E group and was happy to play a small role in helping plan the conference.

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Notes from M&A East

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Notes from M&A East, October 12 & 13, 2010 Spent a couple of days at the M&A East conference, organized by ACG of Philadelphia.     Attendance was good this year, at around 1,400. Overall the mood was positive and deal activity, by anecdote, seemed to be much stronger than this time a year ago. Tuesday kicked off with a session on globalization and outsourcing, which featured extensive discussion of China (see also previous post on Montreux). The conference’s first major speaker A. G. Lafley, recently retired from P&G, followed with a fascinating description of the process by which he and Jim Kilts negotiated the sale of Gillette to P&G in a $57Bn announced January 2005. Lafley now works as an operating advisor with Clayton Dubilier and Rice, PE firm. Wednesday’s sessions and the PE marketplace were an extremely rich networking environment. Some key takeaways included a steady recovery in debt financing availability and terms although no longer would senior lenders go to the 5 – 6 X EBITDA excesses of a couple of years ago. In addition, it seems like a 40%  equity standard has emerged for PE sponsors – at least as the first ask from senior lenders. A panel…

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The Anatomy of a Deal

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“The Anatomy of a Deal” NYC Panel October 7th, 2010 Yesterday’s ACS, CM&E luncheon panel discussion “The Anatomy of a Deal”, hosted by Chris Cerimele of Houlihan Lokey and sponsored by Neil A. Burns LLC, GenNx360 Capital Partners and Houlihan Lokey, was a resounding success. We sold out the venue last week and had to establish a waiting list, such was the appeal of a panel consisting of the following hard hitting practitioners in the world of chemicals M&A: Chris Cerimele, Leader of Chemicals Practice, Houlihan Lokey Jeff Kolke, Senior Vice President, GE Capital Drew Shea, Managing Partner, GenNx360 Capital Partners Bill Rowland, Partner, Jones Day Ray Newhouse, CFO, Lanxess Corp. Chris and I conceived of the idea, early in the year, of having a panel of experienced specialists examine a chemicals M&A deal each from their own unique perspective. And so, rather like in a medical thriller, our specialists discussed and debated the patient’s condition, what to do, what not to do, what’s important, what’s a distraction and what, in general, is the prognosis. The I-Banker, Lender, PE Investor, Lawyer and Corporate CFO kept the record crowd of around 80 lunch guests spellbound for 90 minutes as they debated,…

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Notes from the 2010 Montreux Detergent Conference

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Notes from Montreux 2010 Spent the last couple of weeks in Europe, including the Montreux Detergent Conference – always an interesting and very pleasant time by the Lake Geneva shoreline.  The “warm-up” to Montreux included a bunch of meetings in the UK, then in continental Europe and also, in the interest of full disclosure, the best weekend of skiing ever, on the Klein Matterhorn Glacier, Zermatt, Switzerland. The key themes from Montreux were probably “sustainability” and “China” with each paper and many of the sidebar discussions featuring either or both. Attendance was good and the quality of attendees was, from my perspective, excellent. I had the pleasure of spending some time with colleagues and friends from Desmet Ballestra at their very busy exhibit booth. We engaged many existing and prospective customers in discussions regarding sulfonation, ethoxylation, oleochemicals and of course other areas including soap and food processing. Overall, the opportunity to see many old friends and make new contacts in the now familiar environs of Montreux, was too good to miss. The industry seems in robust health despite the many challenges associated with feedstock volatility and continuing active government regulation. The mood was, on balance, optimistic as new technologies (such…

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China Surfactants Market

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Observations from China Specialty Chemicals Trip: Just got back from a trip to China where the focus was on two of my favorite markets, surfactants and silicones. Many meetings, a couple of conferences, an exhibition and topped off with a speaking engagement, before hopping on the (direct) Shanghai to Newark flight home. The silicones aspect, undertaken primarily on behalf of Sivance LLC, on whose board I sit,  was an eye-opener. Suffice to say, that the organizers, CNCIC, a government  body deserve a lot of credit for the quality of the event. I will be talking more about silicones in the coming weeks. Surfactants in China is a hot market. And by hot, I mean, booming and somewhat overbuilt. In common with many markets there, we see tremendous overcapacity and a very large number of local producers, often sub-scale, competing with larger multinationals who are setting up shop primarily to take part in the growing consumer market for surfactant containing products like laundry detergent, shampoo and cosmetics. I spoke at the 10th Asia Surfactant Conference in Shanghai and moderated one of the afternoon sessions. One of my speakers from Huntsman painted a picture of a highly oversupplied market with 14 ethylene…

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When to sell a business?

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Welcome to our blog and the newly relaunched website for Neil A. Burns LLC. I hope you will check in periodically to share your thoughts with us in response to our postings. When is the best time to sell or buy a business? The Simple Answer: The best time to sell is at the peak of the market and the best time to buy is at the trough. Good luck in calling either of those, however. There are always small minorities of sellers and buyers who, by luck alone, manage to do just that and usually, as your Mom might have said, “someone ends up crying”! For the majority, there are a number of other considerations that it helps to review, especially as they relate to the rebounding chemicals M&A market that we are experiencing today. M&A on the Rebound: Today’s M&A market in chemicals is on the rebound from what was clearly a trough in 2009 in terms of volume and valuations. This trough followed an equally clear peak in 2007 – 8. It is not meaningful to analyze the transactions at either the 2008 peak or 2009 trough as they do not represent what all participants in the…

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