* Chairman "absolutely" happy with current shareholder
* Sees continued hit from pandemic in Q3 but not sharp
* Focus on mitigating impact, generating cash
ZURICH, July 30 (Reuters) - Clariant Chairman
Hariolf Kottmann is happy with the Swiss speciality chemical
maker's shareholder structure, he said on Thursday, playing down
a report the company could seek to dilute the control of Saudi
The Tages-Anzeiger paper said this month Clariant was in
talks with four potential partners -- with discussions with one
group especially advanced -- in search of a "face-saving
solution for the Saudis".
Saudi Aramco owns a 31.5% Clariant stake it got
when it acquired Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC).
Kottmann told reporters he could not comment on rumours and
newspaper headlines, but when asked if he was happy with the
current ownership structure, he said:
"Absolutely, absolutely. As you may remember it was our
initiative to ask SABIC to buy the share package owned by
(activist investors) and it was always our strategic intention
to have an anchor shareholder in addition to the Bavarian
families, therefore our shareholder structure is a very positive
Kottmann had to step in as interim CEO last year when
former CEO Ernesto Occhiello quit suddenly. He said the company
would decide on a new CEO within months.
Based on continuing operations, Clariant posted a first-half
net profit of 75 million Swiss francs ($82.2 million) as sales
fell 5% in local currency to 1.95 billion francs. Sales in the
second quarter fell 4% to 926 million.
It said sales and profitability would suffer from the
COVID-19 pandemic in the third quarter as well, but business was
unlikely to contract sharply.
"Clariant's three core speciality business areas are
executing performance programmes to generate resilient results
during these times and to achieve above-market growth, higher
profitability and stronger cash generation in the mid-term," it
Clariant is in the midst of a massive sell-off process that
will divest businesses that made up one-third of sales.
($1 = 0.9129 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Michael Shields and John Miller, editing
Uttaresh.V and Keith Weir)