Mark Porter: How Top Chemical Companies Navigate Portfolio Decisions



Acquiring chemical companies requires strategic planning when it comes to organizing the portfolio. Mark Porter, who leads Bain’s Global Chemicals practice, shares two factors that influence the way portfolios are often organized and how they can influence the success of the acquisition.

Read the Bain Brief: How Top Chemical Companies Navigate Portfolio Decisions

Read the transcript below.

MARK PORTER: Big chemical companies are usually put together through a series of acquisitions. Very often, the acquisition is based on trying to buy a primary business, and there's other stuff that comes with it. So companies have to figure out what to do with the rest of the portfolio. Portfolios are usually put together, either based on a set of chemical features or a set of capabilities that the company has.

The chemical features can include focusing on a particular molecular value chain and putting together all of the assets on that value chain. Or they can be based around a sort of functional effect, such as adhesives coatings. Or they can be based on a set of end-market focuses, such as the automotive sector. But usually a portfolio is rather messy, and companies have to figure out where they're going to focus and what is not going to be strategic for the portfolio.

The second element of looking at a portfolio of businesses is the set of capabilities that the company brings to bear. Are they competing on cost, are they competing on technical capabilities, are they're competing on a set of value-added services that they provide?

The impact of the coherence of the portfolio from a chemical perspective and a capability perspective also influences the role of the center. The more coherent the portfolio, the stronger the role of the center can be in supporting the individual businesses. The less coherent, or the more diverse the portfolio is, then the center has to be really smart about where it adds value without getting in the way of the businesses.

Read the Bain Brief: How Top Chemical Companies Navigate Portfolio Decisions