ICL completes Astaris acquisition

Israel Chemicals completed the acquisition of the business and assets of US specialty phosphate manufacturer Astaris, providing the company with access to markets in North and South America. Israel Chemicals (ICL) bought the assets from FMC Corp. and Solutia, which owned Astaris as a joint venture. Approvals needed before completing the deal included US anti-trust authorities and the court overseeing the reorganization of Solutia under US Chapter 11 bankruptcy regulations. The final purchase price will be determined within 90 days from Friday - the day the deal closed. When it first unveiled the deal, ICL had said it would pay $255m. subject to adjustment based on the amount of Astaris's working capital and expenditures at the time of closing. ICL plans to integrate Astaris's assets into its performance products division, thereby increasing its sales to $1 billion a year. The division's primary products are high-added-value food additives, while Astaris's products are used in the food, detergent, semiconductor, and flat-screen industries. Astaris, which had an operating profit of $13.8m. and revenue of $350.9m. in 2004, employs 570 people in factories in the US and Brazil and markets its products in North and South America. ICL's performance products business has plants in Europe, Israel, China, and Brazil and concentrates its sales in Europe and the Far East. ICL's shares closed down 1.4% at NIS 17.34 in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Sunday.