Evonik starts up isobutene plant; bonds buyout for carbon black unit

evonikGermany-based Evonik Industries has started up a 110,000 tonnes/year isobutene plant at its Antwerp site in Belgium. The company says it invested tens of million of Euros to triple its capacity for isobutene, which is used in butyl rubber for applications such as inner liners with low air permeability in automotive tyres.

The new plant is part of Evonik’s C4 production platform at Antwerp where it produces starting products and intermediates from crude C4, a by-product of ethylene and propylene production. Isobutene is produced by splitting the anti-knock agent MTBE using a new process developed by Evonik, which the company says is environment-friendly and resource-efficient.

In other news, according to industry sources, the buyout of Evonik’s carbon black unit is expected to follow a recent trend of using high-yield bonds rather than loans in leveraged buyouts.

Triton Capital and Rhone Group are said to have made bids of about EUR1 billion for the business while US-based buyout firm Advent has pulled out.

Other strategic bidders included India’s Phillips Carbon Black, part of conglomerate RP Goenka Group, and India’s Aditya Birla group that withdrew from the sale ahead of the final deadline in mid-February.

Evonik launched the sale process last September as part of its plan to focus on speciality chemicals

Evonik is majority owned by a government-controlled trust that and a 25% stake was bought by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in 2008.