As blizzards still plague the Upper Midwest and Canada, sunny Brazil has some welcome news for salt-strapped road salt customers.
Last year, the federal Brazilian government invested US $10 million to expand the capabilities of Termisa Port, the federal offshore port terminal built on a man-made island exclusively to load bulk salt. The port has been in operation since 1974, but had never been able to load Panamax-sized ships (~75,000 tons) until March 2008.
Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ("Lula") recently approved a second round of investments in Termisa. The new project, ten times larger at US $100 million, will increase the stockpile area by 50%, dredge the ship channels and maneuver areas to a depth of 17 meters and improve barge access bringing the salt from mainland saltworks. A new unloader crane and new belt conveyor system will double vessel loading capacity.
Salt Institute member Salinor's international business director Augusto Pires, said the investment is part of Brazil's economic stimulus package aimed to upgrade infrastructure throughout the country and represents the government's strong interest in Northeast Brazil and the salt industry.
The improvements should be completed in late 2010.
This is one of those blockbuster stories that is most accurately recounted by quoting the principles' well-considered news release, which follows. A month ago, K+S denied rumors it was in pursuit of US-based Compass Minerals (Compass denied the rumors as well).
This caps a busy day of corporate shuffling as Dow Chemicals closed its acquisition of Morton Salt parent Rohm and Haas while openly shopping the salt business to generate cash to close the deal.
K+S has operated wholly-owned, Clarks Summit, PA-based International Salt, distributing more than 3 million tons of (largely highway) salt which it has imported from its Chilean mine.
Here's the K+S release .
K+S Aktiengesellschaft, one of the world's leading suppliers of speciality and standard fertilizers, plant care as well as salt products, announced today that it has come to an agreement with Rohm and Haas, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company to acquire Morton International, Inc. (Morton Salt), one of the leading producers of consumer, industrial and de-icing salt in North America. Closing for the transaction which values Morton Salt at an enterprise value of USD 1.675 billion is expected by mid year 2009 following receipt of the required approvals from antitrust authorities.
“Morton Salt is an excellent opportunity to grow our global salt business”, said Norbert Steiner, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of K+S. “It marks another milestone in our strategy towards balanced growth, enhances our profitability and as a result strengthens K+S Group overall, in Europe and Overseas. As one of the leading salt producers, Morton Salt offers us widespread, close-to-customer production sites in the U.S. and Canada and a nationwide distribution network. Through Morton Salt we gain access to new and less volatile de-icing regions. It extends and diversifies our geographic presence and enhances our positions in the North American consumer and industrial salt markets.“
The acquisition of Morton Salt will make K+S the North American and global leader in salt. In 2008, Morton Salt achieved revenues of USD 1.2 billion and EBITDA of USD 270 million. Morton Salt operates 6 rock salt mines, 7 solar evaporation facilities, 10 vacuum pan operations as well as 62 salt stockpiles and 61 distribution centers. Its annual salt production capacity amounts to 13.1 million tonnes. Founded in 1848, Morton Salt has 2,900 employees and is headquartered in Chicago.
The purchase price will be paid in cash. The financing is fully underwritten by Dresdner Kleinwort, Société Générale and Unicredit (HVB). While maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet, the transaction is consistent with K+S’ acquisition criteria. The acquisition will be clearly EPS accretive from 2010 onwards. “Morton Salt is a profitable business with strong cash flow generation and provides us with operational synergy potential by leveraging the leading salt consumer brand (“The Morton Umbrella Girl”) to its existing product portfolio and by optimizing logistics between Chile, Brazil and North America”, said Norbert Steiner.
“Our business operations are highly complementary and we share a deep understanding of the salt business which will facilitate a smooth integration and deliver immediate benefits to employees, customers and shareholders.
We look forward to working together with an excellent team to realize the growth opportunities that lay ahead”, he added.
K+S and Dow Chemical have carefully analyzed the business combination with respect to potential antitrust and other regulatory considerations and do not foresee any issues in this regard.