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Originally published June 27, 2014 at 4:24 PM | Page modified June 28, 2014 at 8:58 AM

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Univar files for $100 million IPO

Four years ago, Univar hoped to raise $862 million in an IPO that never popped. The chemical distribution company moved from Redmond to Illinois last year.

Seattle Times business reporter


Chemical-distribution giant Univar filed Friday for a $100 million initial public offering, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The offering is significantly less than the $862 million IPO filed in June 2010, which the company withdrew eight months later.

Univar is the leading chemical distributor in the United States and Canada and the second biggest in Europe, supplying commodity and specialty chemicals to a host of manufacturing industries, including producers of oil and gas, coatings and adhesives, food ingredients, cleaning and sanitation, and other chemicals.

As of Dec. 31, Univar had about 8,500 full-time employees worldwide, including 300 employees in Redmond. Univar moved its headquarters from Redmond to Downers Grove, Ill., last year.

According to the SEC documents, last year the company lost $82.3 million on $10.3 billion in net sales.

Univar dates back to its founding in 1924 as a broker of naval equipment and industrial goods, and bore the names of its two founders, George Van Waters and Nat Rogers. It adopted the Univar name in 1974.

Univar grew through a long series of deals and spun off several companies. Its stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker UVX until 1996, when it was bought out by the Dutch transport and storage company Royal Pakhoed.

A few years later, Pakhoed merged with another Dutch oil-shipping and storage company. The combined firm, Vopak, decided the chemical-distribution business didn’t really fit and split it off in 2002.

The new company traded on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange for five years until it was taken private by CVC Capital Partners, a London private-equity firm.

Over the last four years, Univar has acquired multiple companies, expanding operations in the U.S., Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil and, most recently, Mexico with the $92.4 million acquisition of Quimicompuestos, a leading distributor of commodity chemicals in Mexico.

Erik Fyrwald, 54, came on as president and CEO of the company in May 2012.

According to filing documents, the company plans to use funds from the offering to cover operations, expansion and repayment of debt.

Information from The Seattle Times archive is included in this report. Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or On Twitter @coralgarnick

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