Catching Up with Ashland

February 1, 2009
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Last July, Covington, KY-based Ashland Inc. acquired the pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) and atmospheric emulsions businesses of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., Allentown, PA. ASI recently spoke with Marcello Boldrini, vice president of Global Product Management at Ashland Performance Materials, to see how the business has changed in the intervening months.

Boldrini

ASI: Why did Ashland acquire the PSA and atmospheric emulsion businesses of Air Products? What are the benefits to your customers?

Boldrini: This was - and still is - a highly desirable strategic fit with our resins growth platform and our current business in the adhesives and coatings market space. It meets our objectives for adding scale in a targeted segment where we have expectations for above-average growth and attractive margins.

Our existing customers can now also purchase their emulsions from us.  Based on their needs, our customers can now better organize their purchasing to gain efficiencies.

ASI: How has the Ashland product line changed since the Air Products acquisition? 

Boldrini: The water-based emulsion technology we acquired from Air Products nicely complements our established solutions technologies, and the UV/EB technologies that came to us through the Northwest Coatings acquisition just over two years ago. We are the market leader in solvent-based pressure-sensitive adhesives, and this acquisition provided a substantial position in water-based adhesive technologies. The acquired Air Products operations include both acrylic and polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) technologies, supporting Ashland’s sales into paper and film labels, adhesives and sealants, pulp and paper, coatings, and woodworking industries.

ASI: What new end-use applications does Ashland now offer?

Boldrini: This transaction positioned Ashland as a top-tier pressure-sensitive adhesives manufacturer. It also strengthened our position in PSAs for the label industry. Previously, our primary business focus was on tapes and graphics applications.

ASI: Has the number of facilities Ashland operates changed since the Air Products acquisition?

Boldrini: With the acquisition, we added two plants to Ashland's existing adhesives production facilities. This increased our capacity, but we do not release specific information on the capacity and production capabilities of our facilities.

ASI: Did any employees come over from Air Products?

Boldrini: Approximately 80 people from the former Air Products pressure-sensitive and atmospheric adhesives businesses were offered positions with Ashland.

ASI: Has Ashland’s corporate structure changed since the Air Products acquisition?

Boldrini: There has been no change in structure due to the acquisition.

ASI: Has Ashland adopted any business practices from Air Products?

Boldrini: Ashland’s acquisition focused on two efficiently operated production facilities.  We are very pleased with how these facilities function, however I am not able to provide any further detail as to our business practices.

ASI: What does the future hold for Ashland’s PSA business?

Boldrini: Ashland has recognized this area of business as a growth opportunity.  We have invested in that growth, we  enjoy working within this market space, and we are excited about the future. 

ASI: Is Ashland actively seeking more acquisitions?

Boldrini: We continue to investigate all opportunities that add shareholder value, however any comment regarding specific activity would be premature at this point.

About Ashland Inc.

Ashland  Inc.  (NYSE:  ASH)  provides  specialty  chemical  products, services  and  solutions  for  many of the world’s most essential needs and industries.  Serving  customers  in  more  than  100 countries, it operates through five commercial units: Ashland Hercules Water Technologies, Ashland Performance  Materials,  Ashland  Aqualon  Functional  Ingredients, Ashland Consumer  Markets (Valvoline) and Ashland Distribution.

For more information, visit www.ashland.com.

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