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Clariant's hunt for U.S. assets pays off with Texas takeovers

ZURICH, Sept 14 Clariant's hunt for U.S. oil- and gas-related assets paid off on Wednesday as the Swiss chemical maker bought two Texas-based businesses whose products are used in drilling, fracking and other processes needed by energy customers.

Chief Executive Hariolf Kottman has lamented that the North American footprint of his oil-chemicals business was too small, prompting him to seek takeovers.

Low oil and gas prices have put pressure on acquisition targets, he has said, creating potential opportunities for Clariant.

Clariant is buying Kel-Tech Inc. of Midland, Texas, from private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners and Irving, Texas-based X-Chem from NCH Corporation, with the deal to be completed on Oct. 1.

"It is part of our global strategy to seize business opportunities in key markets with excellent future prospects through innovations and bolt-on acquisitions," Kottman said in a statement.

"These acquisitions allow us to strengthen our position in one of the world's largest specialty chemicals markets."

The two firms will add about $200 million to Clariant's annual sales of about 5.8 billion Swiss francs ($5.93 billion), it said in a statement, adding it is paying for the businesses in cash. It gave no further financial details.

Kel-Tech and X-Chem are active in the oil-rich Permian Basin stretching from Texas to New Mexico which has become the biggest and fastest-growing U.S. shale oil field.

Clariant will profit from its expanded presence in the sector especially once energy prices recover, analysts from Zuercher Kantonalbank said in a note to investors.

U.S. oil and gas exploration and production company Apache Corp this month said it made a significant discovery in the Permian containing an estimated 3 billion barrels of oil and 75 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Clariant's specialty chemicals help stimulate production at oil and gas wells, separate solids from oil and reduce corrosion in pipelines, among other energy-related applications.

($1 = 0.9774 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Miller; editing by Jason Neely)

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