ICL Snaps Up Specialty Chemicals Plant in Germany for Up to Around $60m

The Israeli company says the deal will position it as a top phosphorous pentasulfide maker in Europe.

Israel Chemicals said Monday it was buying phosphorous pentasulfide operations in Germany from Thermphos International at an estimated cost of $50 million to $60 million.

ICL said the acquisition would position it as a top phosphorous pentasulfide maker in Europe; it is already a market leader in the United States. Phosphorous pentasulfide is used in making lubricant additives, pesticides and specialty chemicals for mining.

The acquisition will bolster ICL's performance products division; the plant in Knapsack, Germany has few competitors around the world. On Monday, ICL shares climbed 0.9%, compared with a 0.2% rise by the blue-chip TA-25 index.

In its efforts to ensure a captive market for phosphate mined in the Negev and to expand elsewhere, ICL bought Astaris in 2005. That U.S. company is a maker of phosphate-based flame retardants. Other acquisitions by ICL in the phosphate sector include Dutch-German Everris in 2007 and Spain's Fuentes in 2011.

The latest deal "complements ICL's global presence in phosphorus-based specialty ingredients," Charles Weidhas, president and chief executive of ICL Performance Products, said in a statement.

"It is the next step in the global expansion strategy that we have been following for the past decade, carrying out complementary acquisitions that have transformed our company into a global leader in agriculture, food, water and specialty materials markets."

Eyal Toueg