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Ecolab Completes Champions Buyout

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Ecolab Inc. (ECL - Free Report) has finally managed to successfully complete the pending acquisition of Champion Technologies and its related company Corsicana Technologies for $2.3 billion.

Initially, the transaction was expected to close by the end of 2012 but due to certain antitrust-related issues with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the company had extended its agreement till Feb 28, which got further delayed to end-March. Finally, the closing date was set on Apr 15 and the company was able to meet the deadline following a consent agreement with the DOJ.

Houston, Texas-based Champion Technologies is a leading specialty chemical company. Its integrated offerings are an assimilation of sustainable chemistry, technology and service for the worldwide oil and gas industry. With employee strength of about 3,200, the company operates in more than 30 nations. Total sales for Champion Technologies in 2012 came in at $1.3 billion.

Our Take

With a background of robust growth, Ecolab is poised to gain momentum via its aggressive strategy of pursuing acquisitions. Ecolab acquired Champions to become a giant in the oilfield chemical business and reduce competition for its Nalco subsidiary. The acquisition will beef up Ecolab’s Global Energy Services franchise and expand its footprint in the North American energy market.

The Champions deal is the company’s largest acquisition since the Nalco buyout. Moreover, the correlated technology and consumer base of Nalco and Champions ensures that the deal is a strategic fit for the company as the combined venture will be well positioned in the global energy market.

Although the deal will no longer be accretive to 2013 earnings by 12 cents as predicted earlier, Ecolab now expects adjusted earnings per share to increase by 7 cents in 2013. The accretion will likely increase earnings per share by 50 cents by 2016.

The news boosted investor confidence on this global cleaning and sanitation products maker, as reflected by the stock reaching a new 52-week high of $83.24 on Thursday, Apr 11.

Ecolab currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other chemical-specialty companies such as Balchem Corp. , Minerals Technologies (MTX - Free Report) and Prospect Global Resources warrant a look. While Balchem is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock, the other two carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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