Arco Talks With Possible Buyers of Chemical Assets

From Bloomberg News

Atlantic Richfield Co. is talking to potential buyers of all or part of its 82.3% stake in Arco Chemical Co. and will decide what to do with the business by the end of the year, Chairman Michael Bowlin said.

A sale of the chemical business, which analysts say could fetch $6 billion, fits the Los Angeles oil company's goals of focusing on oil production while reducing debt after it completes the buyout of Union Texas Petroleum Holdings for $3.3 billion later this year.

Arco completed the sale of its U.S. coal assets to Arch Coal Inc. on Monday for about $1.14 billion.

St. Louis-based Arch will combine Arco's coal assets with its own Wyoming coal operation and form a new company, Arch Western Resources. Arch will own 99% of the new company and Arco will own 1%.

Arco Chemical, a maker of basic chemicals used in everything from seat cushions to paint, generated about 20% of Atlantic Richfield's 1997 revenue but only 7.2% of the company's $1.77 billion in net income last year.

Newtown Square, Pa.-based Arco Chemical reported revenue of $3.99 billion in 1997. It posted first-quarter net income of $92 million, almost double what it reported in the first quarter of 1997.

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