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By John Miller
ZURICH, July 4 (Reuters) - Activist investor Corvex and roofing maker Standard Industries’ investment arm have teamed up to take a 7.2 percent stake in Clariant in a bid to scuttle the Swiss chemical maker’s proposed merger with Huntsman Corp.
“There are excellent opportunities to unlock value from the many high quality businesses that currently comprise Clariant,” a spokesman for White Tale, a company Corvex and Standard Industries created to buy the Clariant stake, said on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, we do not believe that the proposed merger with the Huntsman Corporation is one of those options.”
Corvex, run by activist investor and Carl Icahn protege Keith Meister, manages assets worth $6 billion and took a 5.5 percent stake in communications company CenturyLink Inc earlier this year.
Standard Industries is the largest North American roofing manufacturer and through its investment arm 40 North previously held a stake in Clariant before linking with Corvex to overturn the Huntsman deal.
Standard Industries’ co-CEO, David S. Winter, is a scion of a wealthy New York City real estate dynasty.
Clariant did not immediately respond to phone calls and email requests for comment.
In their merger pact announced in May, Huntsman and Clariant said the combination would be 52 percent owned by Clariant shareholders and valued at around $20 billion including debt.
Clariant and Huntsman have previously talked up the personal friendship between their chief executives, Hariolf Kottmann for the Swiss company and Peter Huntsman for the U.S. firm, as well as prospects of faster growth for the combined company as rationale for what was dubbed “a merger of equals.”
While the Clariant-Huntsman deal had the support of a group of German families that own almost 14 percent of the Swiss group, Corvex and 40 North said the transaction lacks strategic rationale and runs against Clariant’s strategy of becoming a pure-play specialty chemicals company.
“By merging with Huntsman, Clariant will be exchanging almost half its shares for what is primarily a commodity and intermediates business which will further dilute its multiple and create a larger conglomerate discount,” the White Tale spokesman said. (Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill and Amrutha Gayathri)