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Ashland Global Holdings completes HQs move to Delaware

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WILMINGTON — The roster of publicly-held companies physically headquartered in Delaware has increased by one in 2020 as Ashland Global Holdings Inc. – a specialty chemicals company that acquired Hercules in 2008 and already had operations in New Castle County – completed a move from Covington, Kentucky, that was first announced in 2018.

Ashland has spent the last few months moving from a functional model to a business-led one, “putting in place a new business structure to better align strategy, resources, and capital allocation, and improve execution.” according to new Chairman and CEO Guillermo Novo during the company’s first-quarter earnings call in January.  Novo had just taken the role, replacing Bill Wolfson, who had been with the company for five years.

Guillermo Novo Ashland CEO

The company has gone through a transformation over the past dozen years,” Director of Investor Relations Seth Mrozek told the Delaware Business Times.That transformation was highlighted in 2017 when Ashland announced that it would separate its specialty chemicals and Valvoline businesses into two independent, publicly traded companies.

Ashland now provides specialty chemical solutions to customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets. Key markets and applications will include pharmaceutical, personal care, food and beverage, architectural coatings, adhesives, automotive, construction and energy. As an independent publicly traded company, Valvoline is focusing on growing its network of Valvoline Instant Oil Change stores, leveraging the Valvoline brand across multiple channels to capture new market share, and expanding its presence in Asia, Europe, Latin America and other international markets.

The company operates in more than 100 countries operating across four recently defined primary business segments:

  • Consumer specialties, which includes life science, personal care, and household business units.
  • Industrial Specialties, which is made up of its specialty additives and performance adhesives business units.
  • Intermediates and Solvents
  • Corporate, which holds all its corporate governance costs.

Mrozek said the company had a broad array of capabilities and expertise in Wilmington, many customers in New Jersey, and investors across the region.  He said the move from Covington was an “additional step in our transformation, and the accessibility [to investors and analysts in New York] makes a big difference.”

”We have been operating out of the Ashland Research Center on Hercules Road, with teams doing pharmaceuticals and architectural coatings research, pharmaceutical manufacturing, along with a ‘resource group’ that includes HR, Finance, IT, Legal, marketing communications, and a food and nutrition lab,” Mrozek said.

Beyond saying that the “reality is that we’re all working through this global situation,” Mrozek deferred questions about corporate strategies to Novo’s earnings presentation.

In that presentation, Novo said that his key objective is to drive “profitable growth driven by organic sales…margin expansion, and improved cash-flow generation.” His near-term focus was focusing on implementing the changes around business segments so they can drive core value creation.

“We recognize that the organization is a bit fatigued with change,” Novo said. “Because of this we want to make sure that we move with urgency on defining our future structures and implementing the cost actions we plan to take.”

Ashland does have operations in China and has published an extensive overview of its coronavirus mitigation efforts on its website.

“The coronavirus is having some impact on our employees and our operations. We use a flexible, scalable incident management system for responding to situations, such as the coronavirus, and I am confident in our preparation and planning for situations such as this,” said Senior Vice President of Global Operations Keith Silverman. “Because the situation evolves daily, we will continue to take actions as well as provide updates to our customers and employees.”

By Peter Osborne

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