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ICI to be delisted from Stock Exchange; In association with RBS.

FORMER North-East industrial giant ICI is set to be delisted from the London Stock Exchange today after Dutch group Akzo Nobel completed its pounds 8bn takeover of the chemicals group.

The deal, which has created the world's biggest paintmaking business, was only given the go-ahead by the European Commission after Akzo agreed to sell its Crown Paints.

Concerns had been raised because ICI owns the Dulux brand, as well as manufacturing Hammerite paint. Akzo has already said it wants to make cost savings of pounds 189m by combining its paint interests with ICI's. It is disposing of its Crown sites in Darwen near Blackburn, Warrington, Hull, Dublin and Belfast, as well as its smaller masonry paints manufacturer Sandtex.

In addition to becoming the paint industry's international leader, the buyout of ICI means Akzo will retain pole position in the industrial coatings market, fending off the challenge from US group PPG Industries. The Dutch group makes the industrial coatings used on the Airbus A380 superjumbo plane.

Akzo funded the ICI buyout through the EUR11bn sale of its Organon drugs unit to Schering-Plough Corp in November. By adding ICI to its interests, the Akzo group will now have revenues of around pounds 10.7bn annually.

Although once employing more than 30,000 staff in the North-East, mainly on Teesside, ICI now only has around 80 employees in the region, based at the Hammerite paint plant in Prudhoe in Northumberland. Its total UK workforce numbers around 3,500 in Slough in Berkshire, Stowmarket in Suffolk, Hull and Birmingham in addition to the Prudhoe plant.

Worldwide, ICI employs 26,000 people.

The Akzo deal returns ICI to its roots. The business was founded in 1926 by the amalgamation of four British chemicals companies, including Nobel Industries - which later became part of Akzo Nobel.

In a separate deal, Akzo has sold ICI's adhesives and electronic materials units for pounds 2.7bn.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 3, 2008
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