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Shares in specialty materials maker Umicore (UMI.BR) rise to a two-month high of 15.67 euros, a gain of 11.5 percent, against a 3.6 percent rise for the DJ Stoxx European chemicals index .SX4P, on talk of a possible takeover by chemicals and drug maker Solvay (SOLB.BR).
"There are rumours of a bid by Solvay for Umicore if Solvay sells its pharmaceutical division. This is pushing the share price up," Kristof De Graeve at SG Private Banking says.
Solvay itself soars after Reuters reported that the company plans to start a formal auction of its pharmaceutical business [ID:nL8943116].
"If they sell the unit they will be left with a pile of cash and chemicals activities. It would not be illogical," De Graeve says of a bid for Umicore.
He adds that positive news in the automobile industry and improved signs of auto sales in China are probably also contributing to the rise.
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Zero-Emission is the big business of the next years. And probably zinc air batteries will push Solvay in the league of triple billion revenues companies like Exxon mobile or Shell. Using the know how obtained with innovative pharmaceutical compositions (nanocrystals of Tricor, gel technology of Androgel) Solvay is on track to solve the main issues of zinc air batteries and sooner or later you probably will find the solvay logo at every car "power" station instead of Arco, Chevron, Shell. The oxidation of zinc with the oxygen from the air at a zinc electrode generates electricity. The technology is inexpensive to use and produce as zinc is relatively cheap. Besides, zinc-air batteries are able to hold five times more energy than conventional lithium-ion batteries. Zinc-air fuel cells are not rechargable. Therefore, refueling can only be done by exchanging the “spent” zinc cathodes at fueling stations. These used zinc cathodes can be recycled easily by reducing them back to zinc. So probably Solvay will sell Zincgel instead of Androgel in the near future.
Umicore and Solvay, who respectively enjoy leading positions in precious metals catalyst and polymer membrane technology, consider fuel cell technology as a promising source of future business: they set up SolviCore, a 50-50 percent joint venture in 2006 to develop, produce and market “membrane electrode assemblies” (MEA), the core component of the fuel cell where hydrogen reacts with oxygen from ambient air to generate electricity, with water vapour as the sole byproduct. Fuel cells, which convert hydrogen into electrical power, are not only much more environmentally friendly than traditional combustion engines; they are also much more efficient: the power conversion rate – at around
50% - is twice as high. Moreover, as hydrogen can be produced from renewable sources, fuel cell technology will also help to reduce the dependence of our economy on oil and other fossil fuels.
UMICORE is a materials technology group. Its activities are centered on four business areas: Advanced Materials, Precious Metals Products and Catalysts, Precious Metals Services and Zinc Specialties. Each business area is divided into market-focused business units. The Umicore Group has industrial operations on all continents and serves a global customer base; it generated a turnover of EUR 8.3 billion in 2007 (EUR 1.9
billion excluding metal) and currently employs some 15,000 people. Details are available at
SOLVAY is an international chemical and pharmaceutical Group with headquarters in Brussels. It employs more than 28,000 people in 50 countries. In 2007, its consolidated sales amounted to EUR 9.6 billion, generated by its three sectors of activity: Chemicals, Plastics and Pharmaceuticals. Solvay is listed on the NYSE Euronext stock exchange in Brussels (NYSE Euronext: SOLB.BE - Bloomberg: SOLB.BB - Reuters: SOLBt.BR). Details are available at www.solvay.com