The transformation of ICI
An ICI case study

Below is a list of Business Case Studies case studies organised alphabetically by company. To view more companies, please choose a letter from the list below.

Page 4: Acquisitions

In order to establish its position in its new core areas, ICI has carried out a number of major acquisitions. In 1997, ICI completed a £4.8 billion acquisition of Unilever's speciality chemicals business. The principal businesses acquired were:

  • Ici 4 Image 2National Starch, a world leader in industrial adhesives and speciality starches. National Starch is a company acknowledged as a leader in technology. It produces a range of products with many practical applications. Most of its products are based on natural starch and are well suited to increasing concern about the environment. Almost all processed food contains some starch products.
  • Quest, one of the world's leading fragrance, food ingredients and flavours companies, with particular strengths in new product development and applied bioscience. Fragrances it has developed include Thierry Mugler's Angel, Eau de Rochas, Le M.le and many others.
  • Unichema, a global leader in oleochemicals. Its products are based on a broad range of oils and fats, mostly drawn from vegetable sources. They are used for a wide range of applications including personal care, industrial and household cleaners, polymers and lubricants.

These were all businesses with high profit margins, high potential for growth and a responsible environmental profile. They were all value added businesses which met the sophisticated needs of advanced consumers. In 1998, ICI added Polycell, Hammerite and other do-it-yourself products, bought as part of the European division of Williams (a £350m acquisition). Later in Spring 1998, ICI spent a further $560 million on Acheson Industries, an American company which makes electronic materials for products including switches in computer keyboards and films for medical devices.

ICI's growth in these product areas is complemented by a spread in its geographical operations (i.e. globalisation). For example, National Starch's position as a pre-eminent US speciality chemicals company together with its strong commitment to emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, has reinforced ICI's established global positions and created many opportunities for accelerated growth. Both National Starch and Quest plan to undertake major expansions in China and Asian markets and will benefit from sharing established sites, local knowledge and relationships.


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