By Arno Schuetze
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - France's Air Liquide <AIRP.PA> is putting its German unit Schuelke up for sale in a deal worth up to 1 billion euros (£861 million) as it seeks to streamline its operations and shed non-core assets, people close to the matter said.
Air Liquide has asked JP Morgan <JPM.N> to find a buyer for the maker of hygiene products like preservatives, disinfectants, biocides and medical skin care products, they added.
Air Liquide and JP Morgan declined to comment.
Norderstedt-based Schuelke, which was bought by Air Liquide in 1996 but no longer fits with its focus on supplying industrial gases, has annual sales of 335 million euros.
It is expected to post 2019 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of more than 70 million euros, the people said.
Schuelke could be valued at roughly 12-13 times that, they said, adding that Air Liquide is expected to shop the asset to peers such as Ecolab <ECL.N> as well as private equity groups in an auction expected to launch shortly.
The sale of Schuelke comes as private equity firm American Securities puts Emerald Performance Materials on the block in the U.S. with the help of Morgan Stanley <MS.N>, people familiar with that situation said.
The two companies operate in broadly the same space.
Emerald comprises two units, with Kalama Chemical specialising in preservatives and aroma chemicals and CVC Thermoset Specialties supplying products such as liquid polymers, specialty epoxy resins, reactive diluents and curing agents.
The company is expected to post EBITDA of around $110 million this year and could be valued at 9-10 times that. Schuelke's relatively higher valuation relates to the fact that it is more service-oriented, the sources familiar with both deals said.
American Securities bought Emerald in 2014 from investor Sun Capital, which created it in 2006 out of businesses bought from Lubrizol Corp, a chemicals maker specialising in lubricants for engines.
The private equity firm is expected to market Emerald to peers such as Eastman <EMN.N>, Lanxess <LXSG.DE>, Evonik <EVKn.DE> and Ineos - albeit some rivals may only show interest in one of the units - as well as to other private equity firms, the sources said.
American Securities declined to comment, while Morgan Stanley had no immediate comment.
(Additional reporting by Chibuike Oguh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)