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Ashland Taking a Second Look at Joint Venture

Alternative structures being considered for 50-50 venture with Sd-Chemie

Ashland Inc. and Süd-Chemie AG are taking a new look a their prospective joint venture, which was announce last June.

The venture would combine Ashland Casting Solutions — the operating division that supplies metalcasters with binder resins, refractory and ceramic coatings, mold release agents, sand additives, and riser sleeves, as well as casting simulation and core/tooling modeling software — into a global enterprise with the foundry-related businesses of Süd-Chemie AG. The new venture also would include the two partners’ current joint venture, Ashland-Südchemie-Kernfest GmbH, which they formed in 1970.

Süd-Chemie AG is a specialty chemicals company headquartered in Munich.

Ashland Inc. and Süd-Chemie would each hold a 50% stake in the new venture.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission Form 8-K filing dated December 16, Ashland revealed that in the months since the announcement “amid ongoing discussions, the preliminary due diligence process has essentially been concluded. The parties are now considering alternative structures.”

SEC Form 8-K is a reporting method public companies use to report any material events or changes that are important to investors but not reported previously by the company. No details are available about “alternative structures” being considered.

The statement continued that Ashland and Süd-Chemie have targeted the first half of 2009 for final negotiation of definitive agreements, but said that “closing would further depend upon a number of standard closing conditions, including regulatory review.”

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