Dow Chemical Increases Asset Sale To Appease Activist Loeb

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The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW), the largest U.S. chemicals company, announced in a webcast today that it plans to sell assets worth $4.5 billion to $6 billion by the end of 2015, up from the $3 billion to $4 billion asset sale the firm announced back in January of this year.

Dow’s announcement comes as the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between activist investor Dan Loeb, whose Third Point LLC owns a significant stake in the company, and The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) management.

Breaking Dow Chemical into two units

The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) has been under pressure from Loeb to spin off its commodity chemicals and plastics businesses, but Dow management has resisted the call to date, saying doing so would reduce the overall value of the company.

CEO Liveris in today’s webcast

Dow Chemical Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris spoke in a webcast this morning outlining the company’s expanded divestiture plan. Liveris described the businesses to be included in the additional $1.5 billion divestment as “nice little jewel businesses” with a combined earnings of around $300 million.

Liveris, who is currently overseeing the sale of the firm’s chlorine derivatives business, declined to name the additional units to be divested, but he did allow he believed they could all show more growth with a different owner. The funds from the sales will be applied to the balance sheet as the company dies not intend to acquire “anything of size,” Liveris explained.

Of note, Liveris also mentioned Dow AgroSciences as a possible divestiture candidate in the not too distant future.

“We’ve never said Dow AgroSciences is not a potential transactionable property,” Liveris commented. “Waiting for the right moment to maximize that value and doing it in a way that actually has shareholders’ benefit is our whole drive.”

Dow stock up since Loeb came aboard

The share price of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) stock has increased by more than 12% this year since Loeb announced Third Point’s investment. The exact size of Third Point’s investment in Dow has not been revealed, but Loeb has said it is the fund’s biggest position. Some sources have suggested that Loeb has invested as much as $1.3 billion in Dow.

The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) is trading up 52 cents at $50.19 as of 2 PM EDT today.

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