OM Group to Exit Advanced Materials Business

Chemical and materials firm OM Group (NYSE: OMG  ) announced in a press release Monday that it will exit its Advanced Materials business as part of its long-term growth strategy.

The move includes the segment's sale of its downstream business -- including its cobalt refinery assets in Kokkola, Finland  -- to a joint venture of Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX  ) , Lundin Mining Corp., and La Generale des Carrieres et des Mines (Gecamines). According to a Lundin Mining press release, Freeport-McMoRan will own 56% of the venture, Lundin will have 24%, and Gecamines, the Congolese state mining company, will hold the remaining 20%.

The sale will pull in up to $435 million for OM Group, including initial cash payments of $325 million and up to $110 million in payouts related to meeting revenue targets over the next three years. The deal is expected to close by the end of April. Lundin Mining and Freeport will fund the initial acquisition costs on a 30%/70% basis, Lundin said.

Cobalt is used in applications including batteries, ceramics, chemicals, and diamond tooling. The Kokkola operation is 45 years old and has more than 400 employees.

Scaling back the Advanced Materials business will allow OM Group to focus on its core goals, according to the company, including maximizing shareholder value and furthering organic growth. The business pulled in more than 40% of OM Group's total revenue in 2011.

"The divestiture of our cobalt business is the final step in exiting our legacy commodity businesses and is consistent with our strategy to move up the value chain into technology-based businesses with attractive growth prospects and more predictable earnings profiles," company CEO and Chairman Joe Scaminace is quoted as saying in the press release. The company also announced that the Board of Directors has authorized the repurchase of up to $50 million of its common shares.

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