Toray Industries Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) is set to purchase U.S.-based Zoltek Corp. (St. Louis, Mo.). The announcement first hit the Internet news services on September 26, and Zoltek subsequently confirmed that Toray was poised to purchase the entirety of Zoltek’s stakeholder shares at $16.75 per share (total amount, approximately $584 million). The buyout is expected to increase Toray’s share of the global carbon fiber market to 30 percent. The breaking news was first reported in the Japanese newspaper Nikkei Business Daily. According to a Reuters story, reported by Mridhula Raghavan in Bangalore, India, the deal offers Toray the opportunity to start producing lower-priced industrial/commercial-grade carbon fiber, thus expanding its portfolio beyond its aerospace-grade emphasis.
Zoltek reportedly hired J.P. Morgan Securities (Clayton, Mo.) as a financial adviser earlier this year to help it “explore and evaluate strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value,” reportedly because of a push by an investor group, led by Jeffry Quinn, a former CEO of St. Louis-based performance materials supplier Solutia, for improved results at the company. Quinn’s Quinpario Partners group, also based in St. Louis, reportedly sought, at one point, to oust the company’s board of directors, saying new leadership was needed.
In August Zoltek had reported a quarterly loss of $900,000, or $0.03 per share, for the three-month period ending June 30, compared to a profit of $5.6 million, or $0.16 per share, during the same period in 2012.
Zoltek’s carbon fiber products, targeted to uses in construction and wind turbine blades, are reportedly priced at about 60 percent of Toray’s higher-performance carbon fiber. According to Toray, global demand for PAN-based carbon fiber is expected to expand at an annual growth rate exceeding 15 percent, as carbon fiber contributes not only to energy savings through weight reduction but also in its role in the renewable energy field.
Zoltek’s large tow fiber is anticipated to expand PAN-based carbon fiber’s applications, based on its reasonable balance of cost and performance. These applications are expected to include not only wind turbine blades and other parts but also, in the future, structural automotive parts.