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Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 06:51 AM

Univar buys Texas oilfield-chemical supplier

By Drew DeSilver
Seattle Times business reporter

Redmond-based Univar, a giant but low-profile chemical distributor, said Wednesday it is buying a Texas chemical company to expand its position in the North American oil and gas business.

Univar didn’t disclose a price for closely held Magnablend, which was put up for sale in September. But The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the sale process, reported at the time that the company could fetch as much as $800 million.

Magnablend supplies custom-blended chemicals to oilfield-services companies, as well as specialty fertilizers and feed supplements to agriculture and other specialized chemicals to other industries.

The 33-year-old company has grown rapidly in recent years, paralleling growth in the oil and gas industry. It’s expanded beyond the Texas oil patch, opening facilities in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and North Dakota.

“Magnablend’s geographic position at the heart of current and developing shale basins allows us to offer a comprehensive suite of products and services to meet increasing customer demand,” Univar Chief Executive Erik Fyrwald said in a statement announcing the deal.

The deal is expected to close before year’s end.

The Journal, citing unnamed sources, said Magnablend’s operating earnings were about $70 million in its most recent fiscal year, up from less than $10 million in fiscal 2010.

When Magnablend’s founders retired last year, three investment firms — TGF Management, Austin Ventures and Cotton Creek Capital — bought stakes in the Waxahachie-based company.

Univar, which had $9.7 billion in sales last year, is majority-owned by two private-equity firms, CVC Capital Partners and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or ddesilver@seattletimes.com


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