Hercules Inc. said it has agreed to buy rival specialty chemical maker BetzDearborn Inc. for $2.4 billion plus the assumption of $700 million in debt. Hercules said the deal would boost its line of products and services for the pulp and paper industry and give it a leading position in the water-treatment business. Under the deal, Hercules will pay $72 a share in cash, about double BetzDearborn’s recent share price. BetzDearborn’s stock surged $31.81 to close at $67.69, while shares of Wilmington, Del.-based Hercules slid $1.56 to close at $35.50, both on the New York Stock Exchange. The combined company is expected to have annual revenue of about $3.5 billion. Both companies posted weak quarterly earnings recently, hurt in part by the Asian economic crisis and the strength of the dollar.
Hercules to Buy BetzDearborn for $3.1 Billion