Sources said Chinese or Indian fiber companies are eyeing the man-made fiber producer, as well as Radici Group, the Italian firm with a diversified business operation focused on chemicals, plastics, synthetic fibers and nonwovens.
Sources speculated that Koch was looking to divest Invista in order to invest in businesses with more profit potential and less risk.
A Koch spokesman referred inquiries to Invista. An Invista spokeswoman said the company does not comment on a potential sale. It could not be learned if Koch was selling the company privately or shopping it through a third party.
Dave Trerotola, president of Invista Apparel & Advanced Textiles, said last year that Invista represents about 10 percent of Koch’s business, putting its annual sales at about $12 billion. That was on the occasion of a new marketing campaign for Invista’s largest brand, Lycra, the first branded spandex introduced by DuPont in 1958.
With leading brands including Lyrca; the temperature-controlling Coolmax; Cordura, the industrial specialist that has been making inroads in denim, as well as home goods brands Stainmaster and Antron, Invista, one of the world’s largest integrated producers of chemical intermediates, polymers and fibers, has been expanding its capacity around the world and seems well-positioned for growth. It may be seeing challenges, though, including flat fiber prices and global economic challenges.
The company’s advantaged technologies for nylon, spandex and polyester are used to produce apparel, carpet, car parts and other everyday products. Headquartered in the Wichita, Kan., Invista has operations in more than 20 countries and has about 10,000 employees.
If Koch were to sell Invista, it would be one of the biggest deals in the textile world in decades, even at one time revenues.
Buying Invista would be a big deal for Radici to swallow, given that the Italian company is significantly smaller than the U.S. firm with revenues of 1 billion euros, or $1.06 billion, last year. Radici did not return a request for comment. Radici spandex is a competitor of Invista’s Lycra brand which, along with Hyosung’s Creora brand, are among the largest spandex makers in the world.
Chemical giant DuPont changed the name of its Textiles & Interiors unit to Invista in 2003. In 2004, DuPont sold Invista to Koch Industries for $4.4 billion in cash and merged it with its KoSa polyester unit, creating what at the time was an $8.4 billion synthetic fiber company.
Invista has recently been expanding in China, including the opening of a large nylon manufacturing plant at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park that includes a 215,000-ton hexamethylene diamine plant and a 150,000-ton polymer facility, and deals with such firms as China Prosperity.
Invista’s Applied Research Center in Newark, Del., provides the juice that fuels the global fiber and fabric company’s mission of providing products that offer value-added qualities to brands and the market.
The privately held Koch is owned by the brothers Charles and David H. Koch, who are said to have a net worth of $49.6 billion each. The company has 100,000 employees in 60 countries, owning such firms as Georgia-Pacific, Flint Hill Resources, Molex, and Koch AG & Energy Solutions, Chemical Technology Group, Minerals, Pipeline and Supply & Trading.
The potential sale would follow another big deal last month when Platinum Equity purchased International Textile Group, owner of Cone Denim and Burlington Worldwide. In the merger transaction, a newly formed Platinum Equity affiliate merged with and into ITG, with ITG continuing as the surviving corporation and as a privately held Platinum Equity portfolio company.
ITG was also founded in 2004 by investor Wilbur L. Ross, when he merged Burlington Industries and Cone Mills. Ross was a strong supporter of Donald Trump in the presidential race and is among the financial world figures mooted as a possible member of his cabinet, perhaps as Treasury or Commerce Secretary.
In order to complete the merger transaction, Platinum Equity acquired all of the debt and equity securities of the company previously owned by entities managed by WL Ross and Co. LLC and its affiliates.