When it rains, it pours

April 15, 2009

Although the economy leaves much to be desired, there is still a profit to be made in salt. Morton Salt, the venerable Chicago -based company, with a history in the windy city which dates back to 1848, was put up for sale, generating multiple bids for Rohm and Haas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co. Dow, which put Morton on the block to help pay for its acquisition of of Rohm & Haas, hoped to fetch $1.5 billion. Yes, the salt business has been booming in recent years, particularly road salt. Morton made up the bulk of Rohm and Haas' salt operation, which generated some $1.22 billion in sales in 2008, up 47 percent over the past two years. In addition, its operating earnings more than triped during that time. Table salt is also part of the deal.

Well the speculation is over. Dow announced that Rohm and Haas entered into a definitive agreement, subject to regulatory approval, to sell the stock of Morton International Inc. (the salt business) to Germany-based K+S Aktiengesellschaft, one of the world's leading suppliers of fertilizers, plant care and salt products, in a transaction valued at $1.675 billion.

"We are pleased that we reached an agreement with K+S at an attractive value in such a short period of time," said Dow Chairman and CEO, Andrew N. Liveris.  "This sale puts us ahead of schedule on our de-leveraging plan post the close of the Rohm and Haas acquisition. It is the first of many steps designed to deliver on our clear and measurable plan to build value for our shareholders."

Hopefully, K + S Aktiengesellschaft will continue the wonderful tradition of the Salt Girl on packages of table salt. It would be sad to see her retire.