Well, Fools, if you've been standing around, sipping coffee, and waiting for Dow Chemical
As it turns out, a unit of Kuwait Petroleum -- not surprisingly that country's state oil company -- will spend about $9.5 billion for a half-interest in a package of Dow's operations. The properties are located across much of the world, including the U.S., South America, and Europe.
Among other things, the facilities produce a combination of polyethylenes, polypropylenes, and polycarbonates. All you need to know about those products with the difficult-to-pronounce names is that, collectively, they constitute the building blocks for an array of products, including plastics, packaging, pipes, fibers, automotive parts, and pharmaceuticals. The real key for investors is that their manufacture by Dow has been subject to increasing competition. And since they're largely hydrocarbon-based, their feedstock prices have been rising steadily.
From Dow's perspective, the deal will permit it to get out from under a group of assets with declining margins. And, for its part, Kuwait Petroleum will join a list of state oil companies that are spreading their wings beyond simply producing oil and natural gas in or near their home countries.
And for us all, this announcement both confirms the breakneck pace of globalization in the production and use of hydrocarbons, and perhaps provides something of a renewed perspective on Dow. Unshackled from the weight of some of its less-stellar assets, the company may now be able to improve its return on assets and return on equity to levels closer to its chemicals twin, DuPont
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