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Lianhetech buys UK chemical firm for $126 million

By ANGUS McNEICE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-04 09:18

Major Chinese chemical company Lianhetech has bought UK-based chemical manufacturer Fine Industries in a 103 million pound ($126.5 million) deal, securing an operation with more than 200 jobs and providing Lianhetech with its first European base.

Shenzhen-listed Lianhetech snapped up Fine Industries, based near Middlesbrough, from private equity firm NorthEdge Capital.

Lianhetech is one of China's leading contract chemical manufacturers. It has a market value of $2 billion and operates seven chemical factories, two machinery plants and two research and development centers in the mainland.

Fine Industries will now act as Lianhetech's European headquarters from which it will work with clients in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and performance chemical industries.

"The acquisition provides the capability and expertise needed to develop new products and better utilize Lianhetech's state-of-the-art tech for our customers worldwide," said Lianhetech Chief Executive Maggie Wang.

"We expect Fine Industries' customer base, expertise and capabilities to strengthen our organizational offerings."

Fine Industries manufactures chemicals for agrochemical and pharmaceutical clients. It employs 220 workers and delivered a turnover of 52 million pounds in 2016.

NorthEdge originally invested in Fine Industries in November 2013.

Fine Industries Chief Executive Chris Gowland said that Lianhetech's brand and reputation were well known.

"I expect the union of the companies to further strengthen our position in the global market," he said.

"Becoming part of the Lianhetech team is a very exciting opportunity for Fine Industries and we feel privileged it has selected our business to be the platform for its European expansion strategy."

China has rapidly become the biggest market for chemicals in the world, with an annual growth rate of 23 percent between 2005 and 2013, when China's share of the global chemical market reached 33 percent.

Petrochemical industry research firm ICIS estimated it will have a 40 percent share by 2020.

Ray Stenton, partner at NorthEdge Capital, called Fine Industries the "ideal platform" for Lianhetech's European operations.

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