In this issue of PCI, we publish the annual ranking of the top 10 global and top 25 North American coatings manufacturers.
Analysts who study the industry and publish reports predicting its performance going forward believe the coatings industry will see growth, citing increased demand in the developing economies and stable demand in the developed economies such as Europe and the United States. A report recently published by the International Paint and Printing Ink Council Inc., Global Market Analysis for the Paint & Coatings Industry (2015-2020) forecasts the market will reach a value of $178 billion, which represents a 4.7% growth rate between 2015 and 2020.
In my report this year, I have seen mixed results in terms of growth, with a few companies posting sales increases in 2016, while others have announced lower sales compared to 2015. Many companies also reported stable income with slight increases.
I believe the most interesting activity in the coatings industry is, again, consolidation. More than a year after the announcement, Sherwin-Williams was able to complete its acquisition of Valspar on June 1. The Federal Trade Commission valued the deal at a whopping $11.3 billion. Regulatory approvals were granted after the companies made a deal to sell Valspar’s North American Industrial Wood Coatings business to Axalta Coating Systems for $420 million. The combination of Valspar and Sherwin-Williams has created what will most likely be the largest company in the industry. Analysts are estimating the combined company will see revenues of upwards of $15.6 billion.
Also in 2017, Nippon closed its deal to purchase Dunn-Edwards, and again we see one of the few remaining large independent coatings manufacturers in North America join one of the top global players in the industry.
When I started covering this industry nine years ago, the PCI 25 was the PCI 50. I have watched as many small to medium-sized coatings companies have been purchased by the large corporations. And I have also watched, as happened with the Valspar/Sherwin-Williams deal, as some of the largest coatings companies in the world have joined forces. As demand increases, it appears the world’s largest players are consolidating.
Of course, the story that turned out not to be a story was PPG’s attempts to purchase AkzoNobel. In the spring, PPG placed three offers on the table to purchase its competitor AkzoNobel, and Akzo’s board rejected each offer. The drama was not without consequences. Hedge fund Elliott Advisors helped lead an attempt by a group of shareholders to debate the dismissal of Akzo’s Chairman Antony Burgmans over the company’s resistance to the takeover bid, resulting in a court case in which a Dutch court ruled in favor of the company. In response to the takeover bid, Akzo announced plans to separate its Specialty Chemicals business.
Any merger of the two companies has been put on hold for now, with PPG announcing on June 1 that it would not pursue a public offer for the company. Whether PPG eventually finds a way to snag Akzo, it is clear to me that next year the PCI 25 will look very different than it does this year.