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Rockwood's Talison Buy OK'd

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Specialty and advanced materials company Rockwood Holdings Inc. recently secured the green signal from the government of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board for its impending takeover of Talison Lithium Limited.

With this approval, the New Jersey-based company has received all the required regulatory clearances for the transaction. It expects to wrap up the acquisition by mid-December.

Rockwood, in August 2012, entered into an agreement to buy Talison for C$724 million (roughly $732 million) to boost the production of lithium used in batteries and smartphones. The deal is, however, subject to the approval of Talison shareholders. The company expects its shareholders to vote in favor of the deal in a meeting on November 29.       

Talison is a leading global producer of lithium, and supplies its customer network from the Greenbushes Lithium Operations in Western Australia. Rockwood believes that the acquisition will help expand its lithium business and enable it to better serve its existing customers as well as Talison’s customers in China and rest of the world. The company plans to finance the acquisition using its cash in hand and new debt.

Rockwood released its third-quarter 2012 results last month. Its reported profit (from continuing operation) fell roughly 19% year over year to $61.6 million or 77 cents per share on lower sales.

Revenues dipped roughly 8% year over year to $862.8 million, hurt by negative currency translation. Rockwood saw weak demand in its titanium dioxide (TiO2) business in the quarter.

The company recorded higher sales from its lithium business, helped by better pricing and increased volumes of lithium carbonate. However, sales fell in the surface treatment business due to negative currency impact. Declines were also witnessed across performance additives, TiO2 pigments and advanced ceramics businesses.

Rockwood expects demand for TiO2 to remain soft in the fourth quarter. However, it sees continued strength in its lithium franchise.

Rockwood, which competes with PPG Industries, Inc (PPG - Free Report) and Sigma Aldrich Corporation , currently retains a Zacks #4 Rank, reflecting a short-term (1 to 3 months) Sell rating.

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