Corn Products Intl. enters Fortune 500 territory

By Becky Yerak
Posted June 21, 2010 at 3:21 p.m.

Illinois is getting another Fortune 500 company, and the Fortune 500 is getting another woman chief executive.

Dutch paintmaker Akzo Nobel NV said Monday it has agreed to sell its National Starch unit to Westchester-based Corn Products International for about $1.3 billion. National Starch had 2009 revenue of $1.2 billion, 2,250 employees and operates plants in eight countries. Corn Products had annual revenues of $3.67 billion in 2009.

“The acquisition of National Starch represents an exceptional opportunity for Corn Products International and a significant step forward toward achieving our strategic goals,” said CEO Ilene Gordon.

Combined, the companies would have placed 428 on the Fortune 500 list in 2009 assuming revenues of $4.87 billion.

Also, only 15 Fortune 500 companies in 2009 were run by women. Gordon would be the 16th.

Other women CEOs in Illinois run Sara Lee, Kraft Foods and Archer Daniels Midland.

The deal marks Corn’s entry into the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

CPI said it expects National Starch to increase its offerings of ingredients and specialty starches. The starches CPI is buying are used in a wide range of products, notably processed foods, including cereal, baked goods, drinks, batters, dairy products and infant foods.

“The acquisition aligns with our strategic priorities to grow our ingredient portfolio, increase our presence in priority food processing segments” and win new customers, she said.

Akzo Nobel CEO Hans Wijers said the deal would strengthen the company’s balance sheet and leave it “well positioned to capture growth both organically and by selected acquisitions.”

Corn Products shares closed down 8.5  percent, to 31.90, in New York Stock Exchange trading.

The companies said they expect the deal to close in the third quarter, pending approval from regulators.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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