October 22, 2015 / 11:01 AM / 2 years ago

Dow Chemical reviews options for agri unit, restructures JVs

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

(Reuters) - Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N) 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) 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) or Dupont (DD.N) 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.

In January last year, activist investor Dan Loeb had called on Dow to split its agri business and other specialty chemical units from its petrochemical divisions.

RESTRUCTURING JVS

To simplify its structure, Dow has been trying to cutting down on the number of its JVs.

The company is in talks "around a potential transaction involving Corning's ownership" in Dow Corning, Liveris said, adding that the JV had become a "much more logical fit" for Dow.

Dow Corning, formed in 1943, produces silicon-based products for aerospace, automotive and electrical industries.

Dow said it raised $1.5 billion in pretax proceeds from the sale of its stake in MEGlobal, its JV with Petrochemical Industries Co of Kuwait, and planned to cut its holding in another Kuwaiti JV, Greater EQUATE.

Dow also appointed Vice Chairman Jim Fitterling its chief operating officer and promoted Chief Financial Officer Howard Ungerleider to vice chairman.

The company's operating profit rose 14 percent to 82 cents per share in the third quarter, beating the average analyst estimate of 69 cents, as raw material costs fell.

Revenue fell 16 percent to $12.04 billion, missing analysts' expectations of $12.38 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Swetha Gopinath and Sneha Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey

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