The unit to be sold, known as Unipol, helps third parties produce and customize the popular plastic polymer used in numerous applications, including carpets and containers. Grace, of Columbia, Md., is already a supplier of polyolefin catalyst technology and said the purchase would "significantly" enhance its product portfolio.
"The agreement reflects Grace's continuing commitment to invest in our catalyst businesses, particularly in technology," Grace chairman and CEO Fred Festa said in a statement. "This acquisition strengthens our ability to provide polypropylene catalyst solutions to our customers around the world."
Assets in the deal include Dow's polypropylene catalysts manufacturing facility at Norco, La., licenses, intellectual property, inventory and customer contracts. About 90 workers are expected to transition to W.R. Grace as part of the deal, with the buyer also pledging to honor the unit's customer, licensing and supplier contracts.
The sale is part of a broader campaign by Midland, Mich.-based Dow to prune its portfolio and streamline its focus. The company in March announced plans to shed about $1.5 billion worth of assets by late 2014, and listed this polypropylene licensing and catalyst unit along with a plastics additives business as sale candidates.
Dow chairman and CEO Andrew N. Liveris called the sale "another clear demonstration of Dow's rigorous focus on selectively shifting our portfolio away from assets that are no longer a strategic fit and optimizing their value."