Akzo Nobel unveils plan to separate chemicals arm, pay special dividend

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It is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between the two firms since Akzo rejected a £19.3 billion PPG bid last month and an earlier £18.1 billion bid, saying many jobs would be lost.

AkzoNobel, which employs 3,000 staff across the United Kingdom, is hoping the new plan will win the favour of investors left disgruntled by the firm's decision to snub talks with PPG Industries following its second takeover tilt worth 22.4 billion euro (£19.5 billion).

The announcement came as the Dutch firm said it would return 1.6 billion euros (£1.3 billion) to shareholders in 2017 through a new strategy that will lead to the creation of two separate firms by hiving off its Specialty Chemicals business from its paints and coatings arm.

It also said Akzo's move to increase operating profit by £209 million by 2020 was a long way off.

Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries PPG.N dismissed proposals put forward by Dutch paintmaker Akzo Nobel AKZO.AS on Wednesday to fend off its takeover bid and won support from activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors.

Akzo Nobel N.V.is a paints and coatings company, and a producer of specialty chemicals.

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Earnings before income tax climbed 13% year-on-year to 376m euros (£314m), while sales were up 7% at 3.7bn euros.

The specialty chemicals part of the firm is being separated from the paints and coatings company.

A number of other research analysts also recently issued reports on AKZOY.

The strategy, he added, "will create substantial value for shareholders with significant less risks and uncertainties compared to alternatives". But it has been criticised by a series of leading shareholders who have called on Akzo to open discussions with the U.S. business. Chief financial officer Maelys Castella said today the company is putting in place its own savings measures to deal with inflation.

AkzoNobel said first-quarter net profit was stable at 240 million euros ($257 million) as revenue rose by seven percent to 3.66 billion euros ($3.9 billion). He estimated they could lift Akzo Nobel's value to between 85 euros and 93 euros a share, although "Buechner will have a huge challenge" to show how the company can get there. The stock has risen 39 per cent since the PPG bid became publicly known on March 9. The company reported $0.24 EPS for the quarter.

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