BASEL, Switzerland - Ciba Specialty Chemicals and Morgan Grenfell Private Equity announced an agreement under which Morgan Grenfell will acquire Ciba's Performance Polymers division, a major global supplier of epoxy resins, for 1.845 billion Swiss francs (CHF), or about $1.16 billion U.S. Morgan Grenfell, based in the United Kingdom, is the private equity arm of Deutsche Asset Management, a major European investment banking firm.

The transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals in the United States and Europe. Ciba said it plans to use the proceeds from the sale to repay debt and for corporate development purposes.

"Ciba has successfully restructured the Performance Polymers division and has now found a strong new partner to take over the business," said Rolf A. Meyer, chairman and CEO of Ciba Specialty Chemicals. He said the move also reflects the company's strategy to focus on specialty chemicals. Graham Hutton, chief executive of Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, said Ciba is one of the world's top three epoxy resins producers, with strong positions in specialty applications such as advanced tooling, adhesives and photopolymers.

Morgan Grenfell said it would appoint Karl-Gerhard Seifert, head of its German Private Equity team and former CEO of Clariant AG, as nonexecutive chairman of the Performance Polymers business. Seifert said the new ownership would work with the Performance Polymers business's existing management to expand the business "organically and by acquisition" over the next few years. The business, which employs more than 3,100 people worldwide, will be based in Basel, Switzerland.

Morgan Grenfell Private Equity said it focuses on acquisition of controlling stakes in companies offering high growth potential.