Blackstone, Apollo, Bain and Goldman Sachs are understood to have teamed up to consider a four-way bid for Basell, the petrochemicals business that is owned by Royal/Dutch Shell and BASF. Blackstone and Apollo had initially placed a joint bid, but have since linked up with Bain and Goldman Sachs, sources close to the proceedings said.
However, Shell, which is looking to sell US$12bn in non-core assets over the next three years, and BASF are continuing talks with other parties.
This means that the offer, which could value the business at between €3bn and €4bn, could still face competition from trade buyers. Ineos Chlor, a privately-owned European producer of chlor-alkali metals, is also understood to be interested in Basell, as is National Petrochemical Company of Iran.
Nor have other options for the business been ruled out. It is still possible that the shareholders might float the business. A decision about its fate is expected by June.
Basell has annual turnover of €5.7bn and employs 6,700 people. With manufacturing operations in 20 countries, it is Europe’s largest producer of polypropylene.
The shareholders annou-nced they had retained CSFB and Lazard to conduct a strategic review of Basell, in which they both hold a 50% stake, last July. Shell, which is still recovering from the reserves scandal of last year, is also looking at options for Intergen, its joint venture with Bechtel Enterprises. According to reports, there are at least five bidders looking at Intergen, a power generation business.