DuPont (NYSE:DD) plans to hive off one of its product segments. The company announced that its board of directors has authorized the separation of the performance chemicals business, a move that was expected by some industry observers. The intention is to effect this via a spinoff to its shareholders in a tax-free transaction. The time frame for the divestment is roughly 18 months.

DuPont has a vision of the business as a prominent stand-alone entity complementing its former parent. In the press release heralding the news, the firm quoted CEO Ellen Kullman as saying that "this separation will advance the transformation of DuPont and result in two strong, highly competitive companies."

The spinoff of performance chemicals, which the company characterizes as its "latest portfolio enhancement," is the most recent in a series of moves begun in 2010 aimed at rationalizing its sprawling operations. Since that time, DuPont has acquired and divested a number of different assets.