Littlejohn Takes Goodyear Biz –

In an effort to get back to the basics, Goodyear has sold off its specialty chemical business to Littlejohn & Co. for an undisclosed amount.

The sale reflects Goodyear’s long-term strategy to sell non-core assets and reduce company debt, according to Chairman and CEO Sam Gibara.

Additionally, the sale allows the Goodyear chemical division to refocus its resources on its three core businesses basic and high-performance polymers and antioxidants used in tires and other rubber products; rubber latex used in asphalt; and adhesive resins used in hot melt and pressure sensitive applications.

According to Goodyear, the division is still solid even though it no longer fits its business model. In 2000 the division generated sales of more than $120 million and is profitable. It also employs 410 people between its Le Havre and Orsay, France offices, and its Akron, Ohio-based facilities.

“Although it continues to be strong, it was not part of our long-term plan,” Gibara added.

The company might be financially healthy but it must have some problems or Littlejohn, which typically invests in under-performing companies, wouldn’t be involved. “We don’t generally have a lot of competition on our deals because the transactions are quite hairy and most firms don’t want to deal with that or these types of companies,” said Michael Klein, president at Littlejohn.

Littlejohn, which took a majority stake in Freedom Chemical in 1992 and exited in 1998, was happy to take the division off Goodyear’s hands. “The business has a strong global presence and well-known brands. Plus the acquisition had two facets: one free standing European business and a U.S. plant,” Klein said.

Littlejohn expects to grow the division organically as much as possible and then perhaps make some acquisitions, although there are no deals in the works yet.

“You have a company that has really strong market position and sales with a lot of market opportunity. We’re going to expand on the company’s products, further develop its customer base and build it into something great,” Klein said.

The Akron, Ohio-based specialty chemical business that is being sold off includes resins for paints, coatings and print toners; elastomeric modifiers; and rubber and plastic anti-degradants.