German chemical and consumer products conglomerate Henkel agreed to buy U.S. soap giant Dial ( DL) for $2.9 billion, or $28.75 a share, in cash. The news sent Dial, based on Scottsdale, Ariz., up $1.11, or 4.3%, to $26.99 in thin Instinet premarket trading. Henkel, through a vehicle known as HC Investments, already owns about 25% of the outstanding stock of Clorox ( CLX) and a big stake in Ecolab ( ECL), both of which could be sold in part or whole to help finance the transaction, the company said. No appreciable premarket volume was occurring in either company's shares Monday. Henkel said the deal will add to earnings immediately before goodwill amortization. Dial, which sells laundry products, air fresheners and food in addition to hand soap, did about $1.3 billion in net sales last year and earned $220 million before interest and taxes. Dial said the purchase was part of a three-year-old strategy to make the company "part of a larger, global enterprise." Herb Baum will continue to be chief executive of the Dial unit for two years and other top-level management is expected to stay. The deal must be approved by Dial shareholders and regulators and is expected to close by April.