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Company acquiring W.R. Grace names new CEO

The company acquiring W.R. Grace & Co. for $4.6 billion has appointed a new CEO to lead the Columbia-based specialty chemical giant starting in January.

Standard Industries Holdings, a privately held New York building materials company, announced that Bhavesh V. (Bob) Patel, CEO of Dutch chemical company LyondellBasell, will become the top executive at Grace.

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“He will be instrumental in taking Grace into its next chapter as we ensure a seamless transition post-close and embark on an ambitious growth strategy,” said David Winter and David Millstone, co-CEOs of Standard Industries, in an announcement.

Bhavesh V. (Bob) Patel will become CEO of Columbia-based W.R. Grace & Co., effective January 2022.
Bhavesh V. (Bob) Patel will become CEO of Columbia-based W.R. Grace & Co., effective January 2022.

Patel will succeed Hudson La Force, Grace CEO since 2018. Under his leadership, Grace has invested heavily in its catalysts and materials businesses. La Force will remain as CEO until the end of the year and will join Standard’s advisory board in January 2022.

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W.R. Grace & Co. announced the all-cash deal with Standard in April, saying the acquisition also would fold in a North Carolina-based chemical manufacturer that Grace had planned to acquire. Standard and Grace expect the deal to close by the end of the year.

Grace’s headquarters will remain in Columbia, where it employs about 600 people, becoming a privately held stand-alone company within the portfolio of Standard Industries, which includes businesses GAF, BMI Group, Schiedel, Siplast, SGI and GAF Energy. Grace also employs about 550 more workers at a plant in Curtis Bay, which makes catalysts and silicas used to produce fuel, plastics, food, beverages, coatings and pharmaceuticals.

Standard’s co-CEO said Patel has a record of transforming businesses, including leading a period of strong growth as LyondellBasell CEO since 2015 and leading a restructuring for the company in the U.S. and Europe from 2010 to 2014. Patel also oversaw construction of global manufacturing facilities for LyondellBasell and expanded the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Patel spent two decades through 2010 at Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., where he held manufacturing positions and led several businesses.

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“Grace is an iconic company and a fundamentally strong business driven by its exceptionally talented employees, Patel said in an announcement. “I look forward to working with the leadership team at Grace to take the company to new heights.”

Standard Industries Holdings, the parent of Standard Industries, plans to acquire all outstanding shares of Grace common stock for $70 per share through its investment arm, 40 North Management LLC. 40 North is Grace’s largest shareholder with 14.9% of its outstanding shares.

Grace had rejected an initial unsolicited bid of $60 per share from 40 North last year. The investment firm increased its offer in January to $65 per share, or $4.3 billion, before raising its offer a final time in April.

The acquisition, which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, also includes a division of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Fine Chemistry Services, a division of Albemarle Corp.

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