Shares in Valspar Corp. jumped 24 percent in the opening minutes of stock trading this morning, a day after the company agreed to be purchased by rival Sherwin-Williams Co. for $11.3 billion.
As investors cheered, the hand wringing began locally as executives, during a conference call with investors and media, declined to clarify what will become of Valspar’s Minneapolis headquarters.
Sherwin Williams CEO and President John Morikis said he wasn't prepared to say what would happen in Minneapolis, where Valspar and its predecessors have had a presence for more than 100 years. Those include headquarters staff as well as research and development and technology in four buildings, plus a floor in one of Ameriprise Financial’s buildings downtown.
Morikis said that he expects to maintain a significant presence, but declined to elaborate. He said the deal is expected to generate $280 million to $320 million in savings over two years following its close, which is expected to be in the first quarter of 2017. The savings are expected to come from efficiencies, raw material volume discounts and cuts to sales and administrative expenses, he said.
Valspar has 11,000 employees worldwide, including 600 at its downtown headquarters, which it just spent millions renovating before re-opening last year.
The merger is the biggest acquisition in Sherwin-Williams’ 150-year history and will create a company with combined revenue of about $15.6 billion, adjusted annual earnings of $2.8 billion and about 58,000 employees.
With Valspar, Sherwin Williams gains a much stronger presence in Asia and Europe and a bigger business in packaging and coatings. Both companies are giants in the paint arena. Sherwin Williams is better known for its stand alone stores that cater to contractors and the architectural trades. Both companies sell through retail giants such as Lowes.
Sherwin-Williams offered $113 per share, or about $9.3 billion, for Valspar, a 35 percent premium to its Friday closing price of $83.83. Sherwin-Williams also offered to assume about $2 billion in Valspar's debt.
Valspar shares traded around $104 in the opening half-hour on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares in Sherwin-Williams fell about a half-percent.
“Customers of both companies will benefit from our increased product range, enhanced technology and innovation capabilities … and we are excited about the opportunities that this combination will provide to both companies’ employees,” Morikis said in the statement that was issued Sunday to announce the deal.
Valspar says it is the fifth-largest North American manufacturer of paints and coatings. While consumers might buy Valspar’s Cabot stain products or its paint lines at Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot or Ace Hardware stores, its products have covered everything from Coca-Cola cans to Yamaha grand pianos to aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis to naval submarines.
It has 25 manufacturing facilities in the United States and others in Europe, China and Latin America, Welch said.
Sherwin-Williams is the largest paint and coatings manufacturer in the United States and the second-largest in the world.
The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2017, the news release said, pending approval from regulators and Valspar shareholders. The companies said they believe that “no or minimal divestitures should be required to complete the transaction.”
In a statement, Gary E. Hendrickson, chairman and chief executive of Valspar, described the deal as “compelling” and said it “delivers immediate and certain cash value to our stockholders.”
At No. 570, Valspar is not on the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies by total revenue. Sherwin-Williams came in at No. 266 on the 2015 Fortune 500. Its stock closed Friday at $288.69.
Valspar was ranked 17th in 2014 and 2015 in the Star Tribune 100, a list of Minnesota’s largest publicly held companies by revenue.
For fiscal 2015, which ended Oct. 30, Valspar’s sales fell 5 percent to $4.4 billion, with profits of $400 million. In the first quarter of fiscal 2016, profits fell 50 percent from a year earlier. The company said that was because of lower sales of its products at Lowe’s, negative currency translations and a hit from some customers putting off new orders because of high paint inventories. Several months ago, Lowe’s stopped carrying one of the Valspar paint lines, and recently the retailer agreed to sell Valspar’s Cabot stain products in its stores.
At its start, the company that would become Valspar was just a one-man operation when Samuel Tuck opened a paint dealership in Boston in 1806. It went through several changes of ownership and names in the 19th century. Valspar, the company’s first wood varnish that stayed clear when exposed to water, was invented in 1906, and the company took that moniker in 1932.
Valspar moved to Minneapolis in 1970 when it acquired the privately held Minnesota Paints Inc. The company grew significantly through other mergers and acquisitions.
For more than four decades, Valspar was known for the colorful abstract mural painted on its headquarters building. The mural was painted by Peter Busa in 1973 and required 268 gallons of paint and 553 gallons of topcoat. Its title was “Demolition,” although Valspar staff are said to have referred to it as “The Stripes.” It was visible from freeways as well as city streets and often showed up in photos of the city.
The mural was removed when the building was renovated in 2014. Company officials said the paint was damaging the limestone brick masonry and didn’t let the brick breathe.