Two of the world’s leading chemical manufacturers, the Huntsman Corporation and Clariant of Switzerland, terminated a planned multibillion-dollar merger on Friday, bowing to pressure from activist investors who opposed the deal.
The deal’s demise was the latest success for activist shareholders, who have put some of the world’s largest companies in their sights and are exerting greater influence over corporate strategy.
The proposed all-stock transaction, called a “merger of equals” by Clariant and Huntsman in May, would have been the latest consolidation in the chemicals industry and created a business with a combined market value of about $15 billion.
Some of the industry’s biggest names have sought mergers to gain scale and cut costs, including recent deals between Dow Chemical and DuPont and between Bayer and Monsanto.
“Given the continued accumulation of shares by activist investor White Tale Holdings and their opposition to the transaction, now supported by some other shareholders, we believe that there is simply too much uncertainty as to whether Clariant will be able to secure the two-thirds shareholder approval that is required to approve the transaction under Swiss law,” Peter R. Huntsman, the Huntsman chief executive, and Hariolf Kottmann, the Clariant chief executive, said in a news release.