BASF, Others, in Talks to Buy Cognis

The owners of Cognis, the German maker of additives for cosmetics and detergents, are in talks with several parties including BASF to sell it, two people close to the negotiations said on Friday.

Permira and co-owner Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, which turned down takeover offers for Cognis as too low in 2006, aim to fetch a sale price of at least 3.5 billion euros ($4.68 billion), one of the people said.

BASF, Permira and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Cognis was not immediately available for comment.

Talks with all parties are still at an early stage and could take months to complete, both of the sources said, without providing details on who the other potential buyers are.

Financial industry sources had told Reuters on March 16 that Permira and Goldman Sachs were hoping to woo specialty chemical makers such as Lanxess and Evonik to end their troubled investment in Cognis.

The former unit of glues and detergent maker Henkel has negative equity, with liabilities exceeding assets by 793 million euros as of September, the newspaper said at the time, citing financial statements.

At the same time, Cognis is preparing for an initial public offering in the second half of this year.

The move comes as several buyout firms try to float chemical-sector assets in Europe such as chemicals distributor Brenntag, which raised 747.5 million euros in an IPO last month.

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