Huber Engineered Materials in Havre de Grace has new German owner

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Huber Engineered Materials recently sold its silica business unit, which has a plant based in Havre de Grace, to Evonik Industries AG for $630 million, according to announcements from both companies.

Evonik, a global specialty chemicals company based in Germany, has supplanted an iconic name in Havre de Grace.

The sale, completed after approvals from the European Commission and other global regulatory bodies, transferred ownership of the HEM Silica facilities in North America, Europe and Asia to Evonik, effective Sept. 1, according to a news release from privately-owned Huber.

The Huber complex, which includes a plant and storage facilities along Juniata Street and a research center on Revolution Street, is one of Havre de Grace’s largest and oldest manufacturing operations. The company located in the city in the early 1950s during an expansion of its silca chemicals business, according to an online history. Its plant on Juniata had formerly been a liquor distillery.

For the 2016 financial year, Huber Silica achieved sales of close to $300 million, according a news release from Evonik.

Evonik is bringing together the two diverse Silica businesses that will further improve the company’s value proposition as an integrated global provider, better positioned to serve a broader base of customer needs, particularly in North America and Asia, the company said.

The Silica business had been a fundamental part of Huber for more than 60 years, providing a runway for the company’s global diversification into engineered materials, according to Huber. Silica has a variety of uses in paper manufacturing, chemicals and consumer goods industries.

“The strength of our Huber Silica business was built, in part, from the collaborative spirit of our Silica employees, who adhere to best practices in environment, health, safety and sustainability, ethical behavior, respect for people and operational excellence. These guiding principles at Huber are the foundation of our company culture and ability to deliver superb value for our customers,” Mike Marberry, Huber president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We thank our Silica employees and know their talents and expertise will be highly valued by Evonik.”

“With the successful closing of the acquisition, we are strengthening our ‘Smart Materials’ growth engine by continuing to expand our globally leading position in the silica business,” Christian Kullmann, chairman of the executive board of Evonik, said in a statement.

The newly acquired business will be integrated into Evonik’s Resource Efficiency Segment. The intensive planning work that has been done for the integration over the past few months will be put into action straightaway, company officials said.

The acquisition is a perfect match for Evonik’s product portfolio. Huber Silica is especially oriented toward applications in the consumer goods industry, the dental sector for example, the new owner said. To date, Evonik’s silica business has been more focused on industrial applications, for example in the tire and coatings industries.

Figures on employment at the Havre de Grace complex were not immediately available. A spokesperson for the local plant referred inquiries to the German headquarters, but no response to emailed questions was received.

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