Shares of Axalta Coatings Systems Ltd., the Philadelphia-based auto-paints and powder-coatings maker, rose as much as 15 percent in trading Wednesday after the company revived expectations it will be sold.
Shares closed at $29.33, up from $25.88 Tuesday, and the highest since last August. The company earned $207 million in after-tax profits on sales of $4.7 billion last year. Profitable industrial companies such as Axalta are typically sold at premium prices, encouraging investors who hanker for a piece of the action.
Axalta employs 14,000 at its plants and paint labs worldwide, including its new central research and development facility at the Navy Yard business center and its Americas offices in Glen Mills.
The company’s new “Strategic Review Committee” will be made up of three chemical-industry veterans with much deal experience -- independent directors Mark Garrett and Samuel Smolik and chief executive Robert Bryant, the company’s former CFO until he was elevated to the top job last year after two CEOs left in quick succession.
Axalta also hired two investment banks, Evercore and Barclays, and the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP to help figure out what to do.
The board “is committed to maximizing value for all shareholders and has initiated a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives, including a potential sale of the Company, changes in capital allocation," or not, said Garrett in a written statement, adding that Axalta has been a buyer of other companies in the past.
Under former chief executive Charles Shaver, Axalta bought six companies in the spring and summer of 2017, before turning down multibillion-dollar buyout offers from rivals ABN Akzo of the Netherlands and Nippon Paint of Japan.
Axalta’s largest owner is billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Corp., who has stripped assets from a long string of U.S. companies that weren’t sending him cash as fast as he wanted.