Celanese Corp. has agreed to acquire Vinamul Polymers, the emulsion polymers business of ICI plc's National Starch and Chemical Co., for $208 million, pending regulatory approvals. The Vinamul Polymers product line includes vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) copolymers, vinyl acetate homopolymers and copolymers, and acrylic and vinyl acrylic emulsions.

Vinamul Polymers' sales totaled $335 million in 2003, with an operating profit reported at $18 million. The business employs approximately 600 people and operates manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands. As part of the purchase agreement, National Starch will continue to supply Vinamul Polymers with starch, dextrin and other specialty ingredients.

Celanese will supply the Vinamul business with vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and polyvinyl alcohols (PVOH).

David Weidman, CEO-designate of Celanese Corp., says the acquisition represents "the latest development in a strategy of diversifying our product offerings with higher-value chemicals that are customized for end-use applications." He says the Celanese and Vinamul Polymers businesses "complement each other geographically and technologically" and will give Celanese "a wider range of product solutions, a more reliable source of supply, and the ability to expand" on a global basis.

Celanese's current emulsion polymers business, which was acquired from Clariant in 2002, is primarily focused on markets in Europe, while the Vinamul business holds market positions in both Europe and North America. The company is a supplier of emulsions used in coatings, adhesives and other applications. Celanese is controlled by a group of investment funds that are advised by the global investment firm Blackstone Group.