Acquisition: Ashland to buy International Specialty Products for about $3.2 billion.

According to news from AP, Ashland will buy International Specialty Products for about  $3.2 billion, the company said Tuesday.

Ashland is just the latest entity to snap up a high-margin specialty chemical company, following Berkshire Hathaway's $9 billion acquisition of Lubrizol, and Dow Chemical's $15 billion buyout of Rohm & Haas.

The latest deal, expected to close before the end of the fourth quarter, should immediately add to Ashland's earnings per share. The transaction is expected to save Ashland about $50 million by the second year after the acquisition's closing by eliminating redundancies and making operations more efficient.

The deal "broadens Ashland's presence within attractive growth areas like skin, hair and oral care, which are large and fast-growing segments of the $5-billion-plus personal care specialty ingredients market," said Chairman and CEO James O'Brien.

The company will more than double the size of its our highest-margin functional ingredients business, O'Brien said.

The Covington, Ky., chemical company plans to use available cash and committed financing from several banks including Citi, The Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and U.S. Bank National Association.

If financing falls through, ISP could require Ashland to pay a $413 million termination fee.

The deal requires U.S. and European Union regulatory approvals.

ISP, based in Wayne, N.J., had about $1.6 billion in sales for the year ended March 31.

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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