Cleaning air

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British speciality chemicals company Johnson Matthey has signed an agreement to buy Argillon Group for €214m in cash from Ceramics Luxembourg, a company owned by KKR funds.

Argillon Group, Germany-based specialists in catalysts and advanced ceramic materials, is said to have leading catalyst technology used to control the emissions of nitrogen oxides. Its products include catalysts for mobile and stationary applications, such as heavy and medium-duty diesel vehicles; stationary diesel engines; marine applications; and coal, oil and gas-fired turbines in power stations. It also manufactures and markets engineered ceramics including insulators used in power transmission and distribution applications, piezo ceramics used as actuators for the textile machinery and automotive industries as well as alumina components for semiconductors and circuit breakers.

Neil Carson, chief executive of Johnson Matthey, said: ‘The acquisition of Argillon will complement our existing technology for controlling harmful NOx emissions. In the next few years we expect that global concerns about air quality and climate change will mean this technology will be widely used in both mobile and stationary applications around the world.’

In the year to 30th September 2007, Argillon reported sales of €160m and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of €26m. Its net operating assets were €60m on this date.

Argillon employs around 1,500 people and has manufacturing sites in Germany, Poland and Romania.

The transaction is conditional upon regulatory clearance in Germany. Johnson Matthey will finance the acquisition from existing borrowing facilities.