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W.R. Grace Completes Sale Of Organic Chemicals Business

December 30, 1993

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) _ W.R. Grace & Co. said Wednesday it completed the sale of its organic chemicals business and a share of its cocoa and chocolate business.

The Organic Chemicals Division was sold for more than $100 million to a management group led by a private investment firm, Vestar Capital Partners Inc., Grace said Wednesday.

Grace sold a 21 percent share in Grace Cocoa Associates L.P. for $300 million to a group of investors, but will retain management of the business, the company said.

The Organic Chemicals Division, which has been renamed Hampshire Chemical Corp., will be headed by Edward J. Najjar, the former president of the division.

The two sales are part of a strategy of paying down debt and focusing Grace’s business efforts in specialty chemicals and healthcare products and services, Grace said.

Grace spokesman Chuck Suits explained that organic chemicals - used in soaps, detergents, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals - did not fit in with the company’s five branches of specialty chemicals.

Specialty chemicals take a raw material and improve upon it for use in industry - such as polymer chemicals and silica-based products.

Grace plans to concentrate on food processing, water treatment and medical technology, said Jeremiah McCarthy, manager of the division’s plant in Nashua, N.H.

The chemical division buyout, nine months in the making, was initiated by Grace.

The division, which will continue to be headquartered in Lexington, Mass., produces chemical intermediates used in cosmetic and personal care products, soaps and detergents, pharmaceuticals and other applications. It has five plants in the United States and one in England.

The plants are in Nashua, Lima, Ohio; Deer Park, Texas; Owensboro, Ky.; Waterloo, N.Y.; and Teesside, England.

Grace and Vestar will share liability for an estimated $2 million investigation into possible toxic contamination at the Nashua site, McCarthy said.

Vestar Chemical Partners is a private investment firm headquartered in New York City. Since its founding in 1988, Vestar Capital has organized and invested in 10 management buyouts for a total value of approximately $1 billion.

Other companies owned by Vestar include Consolidated Cigar, the country’s largest cigar maker; Super D Drugs, a chain of Southern drug stores; and Monogram Sanitation, a California company that produces airplane toilets.

Grace Cocoa is a leading supplier of cocoa and chocolate ingredients to the bakery, confectionery, beverage, dairy and food service industries.

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