Avecia say they are in talks to sell leather chemicals business Stahl to US private equity capital firm Investcorp. Investcorp own 50% of Avecia, and private equity capital firm in London, Cinven, hold the remaining shares. Avecia will use most of the proceeds of the sale to reduce their debt.

Cinven and Investcorp bought Avecia, formerly Zeneca Specialty Chemicals, in June 1999 for £1.3 billion (US$1.9 billion). Agreements with creditor banks stipulated that proceeds from the sale of any major Avecia assets should be used to pay off Avecia’s debt. Avecia, however, say they will keep some of the Stahl proceeds to support future investments.

Stahl’s sales last year reached £225 million, about 30% of Avecia’s total. Stahl have more than 20 plants worldwide and employ 30% of Avecia’s 4,900 workforce. Leather finishes account for well over 50% of Stahl’s sales.