Lucite, the world’s leading maker of acrylic-based products, has been put up for sale with an estimated price tag of about $2.5bn, including debt.

Charterhouse Capital, the UK buy-out group that bought Lucite just over six years ago for $960m, has mandated Deutsche Bank to sell the business after receiving several unsolicited approaches.

UK-based Lucite, which has annual sales of $1.43bn and earnings of $253m before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, is expected to attract interest from some of the world’s big chemicals groups.

They are expected to include Dow Chemical and Rohm Haas of the US, BASF of Germany and Japanese groups Asahi Kasei and Mitsubishi Rayon.

Deutsche Bank this week wrote to prospective suitors. An information memorandum on the business will be released next month.

A sale is likely to be agreed in the second quarter. Charterhouse’s equity investment in Lucite was €268m and it stands to generate a return of close to four times that figure.

Lucite is the leading producer of methacrylate monomers, the building block of acrylic materials, with an approximate 25 per cent global market share. Its patented brands include Lucite, Perspex and Tufcoat.

The company, which has 16 plants in nine countries, has invested heavily on a new patented method of manufacturing that allows acrylic to be produced 40 per cent more cheaply.

A new plant incorporating the technique, described by Lucite as “alpha technology”, will be built in Singapore. It is not due to be completed until 2007.

Management and employees own 9 per cent of Lucite, with the executive team holding about 2.6 per cent. Management is expected to stay with the business after the sale.

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