CF Industries (CF) And OCI NV Mull Merger: WSJ

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Merger mania continues to spread into the chemical manufacturing sector. According to the Wall Street Journal, American fertilizer producer CF Industries Holdings is involved in in-depth negotiations regarding a merger with Dutch fertilizer firm OCI NV, as the chemical sector participates in the wave of consolidation sweeping across virtually all industries today.

CF Industries shares moved up around 10% after the story broke Friday afternoon.

More on possible CF Industries and OCI merger

Knowledgeable WSJ sources reports that CF (based in Deerfield, Illinois) and OCI are in discussions about a deal that could even be finalized by the end of the month. The sources could not provide any additional color on the deal the companies are discussing or possible terms, and it is always possible that the negotiations fail.

The sources did note that the merger may be structured as some type of an inversion deal, where a U.S.-based firm moves its tax headquarters overseas to reduce its tax burden.

Of note, OCI had a market value of $6.2 billion as of early Friday. CF has a current market value around $14.1 billion.

The chemical sector has seen a growing pace of M&A activity over the last few quarters. The sector has seen $51 billion in deals worldwide so far in 2015, a more than 10% increase from $46 billion in the same period last year and a mere $15.2 billion to this point in 2013, based on data from Dealogic.

More on CF

CF is a leading global manufacturer and distributor of nitrogen fertilizers. The firm saw $4.74 billion in sales in 2014, an approximately 13.4% drop from 2013 mainly due to poor weather limiting agricultural production in many areas worldwide. CF had $1.39 billion in net earnings last year.

The fertilizer maker was involved in negotiations with Norway’s Yara International to try and build the world’s largest nitrogen-fertilizer company. However, the negotiations were eventually called off when the parties could not agree on terms for the merger.

More on OCI

OCI produces natural-gas-based fertilizers and industrial chemicals for distribution worldwide. The firm has extensive production facilities in the Netherlands, Egypt, Algeria and the U.S., and reported $329 million in income on $2.7 billion in revenues last year. Analysts note that the company also spun off its engineering-and-construction unit just a few months ago.

OCI was founded back in the 1950s in Egypt, based on the company’s history on the firm’s website. The current CEO is Nassef Sawiris, who is a scion of this  prominent Egyptian business family.

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