In a blockbuster deal, DSM has agreed to sell their DSM Resins & Functional Materials line of business to Covestro.
Netherlands-based DSM is a huge multinational operation focusing on health, nutrition and materials. Well, there’s a bit less of the materials portion after this deal goes through.
DSM is about half the size of Covestro, a major chemical company based in Germany. Covestro is actually a spinoff of Bayer as of 2015, and currently employs over 17,000 staff.
DSM explains what is done by RFM:
“DSM Resins & Functional Materials, containing a Sustainable Coatings division and a Functional Materials division, provides highly-specialized, market-leading products such as resins for use in paints and other industrial applications, and optical fiber coatings. This includes DSM Niaga, a VOC-free adhesive and a proprietary production technology for fully-recyclable carpets, mattresses and furniture components.
DSM Additive Manufacturing provides performance materials and deep application expertise in 3D-printing to help manufacturers rethink the way they design products to manufacture tomorrow. DSM Advanced Solar coatings are high performing anti-reflective coatings used for solar glass activities. The division’s activities in next-generation backsheets for photovoltaic modules remains as DSM Advanced Solar as part of DSM.”
As you can see, we’re interested in this transaction because DSM provides materials for 3D printing and additive manufacturing. The company has, in fact, become a major player in this industry — including recently acquiring part of Clariant’s 3D printing portfolio.
About the Covestro deal itself, DSM says:
“The combination of RFM and Covestro will create a business of enhanced scale and technological capability that will benefit existing and potential customers as well as its employees through a stronger platform for growth. Completion of the transaction, which is subject to the customary conditions and approvals, is expected in H1, 2021.”
The value of the arrangement is said to be €1.6B (US$1.9B), almost 6X RFM’s annual profit.
Covestro’s CEO, Dr. Markus Steilemann, said:
“This acquisition is an important step for our corporate strategy. RFM enhances the growth trajectory of our business. By combining our strong innovation capabilities, sustainable product portfolios as well as complementary technologies and customer industries, we will unlock significant value. At the same time, it is also a key step to drive innovation for the transition towards a circular economy.“
It’s important to note that while we’re interested in the AM portion of the business, there is far more than that included in the RFM business. Covestro will surely benefit in a number of their existing businesses with the addition of the RFM products and resources.
DSM is a bit silent on the reasons for this transfer, saying only:
“The proposed transaction is another step forward in DSM’s evolution as a purpose-led, science-based company operating in the fields of Nutrition, Health, and Sustainable Living.”
“In Covestro, we recognize a company that shares similar views on culture and the value of sustainability. We know that Covestro will be a good owner of these businesses for customers, colleagues and other stakeholders.”
The RFM business was apparently quite profitable, and so I can only speculate that they might have shed this business due to a gradual green transformation? It may be they wish to meet regulatory goals on emissions, and this could be a way to do so. Or perhaps it is simply a matter of changing corporate strategies.
Meanwhile, Covestro specifically lists the benefits to their operations, saying:
“The acquisition diversifies Covestro’s industry exposure and also significantly strenghtens the company’s positioning in attractive high-growth markets. Amongst others, Covestro will become one of the leading suppliers in the field of optical fiber coatings – a market segment with enormous future potential, including the future technology of 5G – and in the attractive high-growth segment of 3D-printing materials, showing an average growth rate of more than 20%. Furthermore, the optimal fit of the combined geographic footprint is strengthening Covestro’s proximity to customers in all key markets and is expanding its global production network by more than 20 sites.”
Clearly, they are deeply interested in the “3D-printing materials”, and will likely be able to provide a much broader product set for the industry. It appears the RFM business is a good fit and it may actually be better off under Covestro.
Acquisitions of this magnitude do take considerable time to sort out. The next day staff at both companies will be making plans to figure out the details of their next steps. It will be months, if not years, before this acquisition is truly completed.
For the AM industry, however, we now have a much more powerful player at the table. With their new scale they may be able to more quickly develop new materials for 3D printing. And all those companies that made deals with DSM to supply materials will now find a different party on the other side of the table.