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Evonik says preparing diaper materials business for potential sale

FILE PHOTO: The logo of German specialty chemicals company Evonik Industries AG at its plant in Bitterfeld, Germany, February 29, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - German chemicals maker Evonik EVKn.DE on Tuesday said it would prepare its superabsorbents business, which makes materials for diapers and hygiene products, for a possible sale in about six to nine months.

After an organisational carve-out, Evonik would put the business up for sale, seek a partner or restructure it further, a spokesman told Reuters.

The division competes with BASF BASFn.DE, Nippon Shokubai 4114.T, Sanyo Chemical 4471.T and LG Chem 051910.KS and Evonik has said it is the third-largest supplier of superabsorbents.

Analysts at Bernstein Research on Tuesday estimated a sale could generate 400-450 million euros in proceeds.

The company has been pursuing deals to boost margins and growth prospects. Evonik this year wrapped up the $625 million takeover of PeroxyChem to bolster its bleaching agents business and in August agreed to buy U.S. process catalyst maker Porocel for $210 million.

Last year it agreed to shed its methacrylates plastics unit, a maker of materials for clear acrylic sheets, for 3 billion euros.

Deputy Chief Executive Harald Schwager said in June the group would consider all strategic options for the absorbent materials business over the next few years and that the unit was currently being restructured.

It is part of Evonik’s Nutrition & Care division, which saw revenue slip 1% to 4.58 billion euros last year.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Michelle Adair, Douglas Busvine and David Evans

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