Nov 20 (Reuters) - Diversified chemical company FMC Corp said on Thursday it has tapped Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc to help with the sale of its alkali chemicals unit, which sources said could fetch around $1.5 billion.
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based chemical maker announced its intention to sell the alkali chemicals business on Sept. 8, when it unveiled a deal to acquire Cheminova A/S, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries A/S for $1.8 billion.
An FMC representative on Thursday confirmed the bank mandates following a Reuters enquiry. He declined to comment on the unit's valuation, which was provided by sources close to the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity. Goldman Sachs and Bank of America declined to comment.
The alkali chemicals division is a global producer of natural soda ash and related products used in the glass, chemical processing and detergent industries.
In March, FMC said it would split itself into two companies in a bid to separate its stable and growing agriculture, health and nutrition businesses from its cyclical minerals division.
FMC's alkali chemicals unit was to be placed inside the company's minerals segment. FMC scuttled its plans to spin off of the minerals business, however, when it agreed to acquire Cheminova.
FMC Chief Executive Pierre Brondeau has said the sale of alkali chemicals will allow FMC to cut its debt pile following the Cheminova deal. FMC's lithium unit, the other component of what would have been the minerals division, will remain with FMC following the sale of the alkali business.
FMC will concentrate on its nutrition, agriculture and health business lines following the sale of the alkali business.
Brondeau said on Sept. 8 he expected the sale of the alkali chemicals unit to be completed by mid-2015. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Mike Stone; Editing by Marguerita Choy)