Israel: ICL acquires industrial phosphate business in Germany

Fertilizer and specialty chemicals maker Israel Chemicals (ICL) agreed to acquire the phosphorus pentasulfide (P2S5) business assets and operations of Thermphos International BV, located in Knapsack, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

P2S5 is a specialty ingredient used in the manufacture of highly technical materials such as lubrication oil additives, pesticides and mining chemicals. The product is formed by measuring molten P4 into a reaction vessel containing molten sulphur, at a rate to control the temperature of the exothermic reaction. The temperature of the sulphur and the quantity of P4 added determine whether the pentasulfide or phosphorus sesquisulfide is produced. If purification is necessary, the P2S5 product may be distilled under reduced pressure.

Due to its specialized nature, P2S5 is manufactured in only a limited number of plants in the world. ICL’s performance products operating segment is a leading manufacturer of P2S5 in North America. The deal will make the unit one of the foremost providers of the product in Europe. ICL main competitors are ChemTrade Logistics Company in North America (they produce annually approximately 26 million pounds at their plant in Lawrence, Kansas) and Italmatch Chemicals in Brazil and Singapore.

The acquisition gives ICL a footprint in Europe and extends the range of performance products provided by the company, allowing ICL to play on the whole value chain, from extraction of the phosphate in Israel to its production and transformation into a specialty chemical product. Approximately 76% of ICL-Performance Products external sales are of phosphoric acid of various grades (technical, food, electronics and polyphosphoric acid) and its downstream products. Performance products account for about a fifth of the ICL’s revenues.

ICL authorities stated that the acquisition complements ICL’s global presence in phosphorus-based specialty ingredients, and that it is a step in the global expansion strategy that they have been following for the past decade. In 2012 ICL-PP had USD 1.5 billion revenues, which included USD 65 million in internal sales.