Dow Chemical reviews options for agri unit, restructures JVs

Thu Oct 22, 2015 11:36am EDT
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By Swetha Gopinath and Sneha Banerjee

(Reuters) - Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N: Quote) said it would "review all options" for its farm chemicals and seeds unit, which has reported falling sales for nearly a year, and suggested that it might buy Corning Inc's (GLW.N: Quote) stake in a silicon joint venture.

Dow is also selling its stake in a Kuwaiti JV that produces a chemical used in polyester production and planning to cut its holding in another Kuwaiti JV that makes petrochemical products.

Shares of the company, which raised its quarterly dividend, rose as much as 8.4 percent on Thursday.

Dow embarked on a massive restructuring in 2013, shrinking its low-margin commodity chemical businesses, including its century-old chlorine unit, to focus on more lucrative specialty chemicals used in electronics and packaging.

Falling crop prices and rising fertilizer output have triggered consolidation among farm-focused companies.

"Everyone is talking to everyone," Dow Chief Executive Andrew Liveris said on a conference call.

Dow's best option may be to merge its agri unit with Monsanto Co (MON.N: Quote) or Dupont (DD.N: Quote) or sell it altogether, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst James Sheehan said.

Monsanto is looking to grow through acquisitions after its failed bid for Syngenta AG SYNN.VX. Speculation of a tieup between Dow's agri unit and Dupont intensified this month after Dupont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman stepped down.   Continued...

The Dow logo is seen at the entrance to Dow Chemical headquarters in Midland, Michigan May 14, 2015.  Photo taken May 14, 2015.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook - RTS4AE6