Speciality chemicals firm Johnson Matthey has agreed to sell its gold and silver refining business to Japan’s Asahi Holdings Inc for 118 million pounds ($186 million) in cash, the British firm said on Monday.
The business, which employs around 340 people, is a refiner of primary and secondary gold and silver, and has plants in Salt Lake City in the United States and Brampton in Canada.
London-listed Johnson Matthey, the largest producer of autocatalysts, said the gold and silver refining unit had sales of 44 million pounds in the year to the end of March, and its return on sales is typically 25 percent.
Johnson Matthey Chief Executive Robert MacLeod said the sale was part of its plan to focus on using its expertise in chemistry to produce new technologies.
“We think this is a sensible move for Johnson Matthey given the mid-term outlook for gold and silver prices remains unpromising and there are few synergies with the rest if the group,” said Liberum analyst Adam Collins in a note.
“It is a further sign, following the end of the Amplats contract, that Johnson Matthey sees itself as an advanced materials technology company not a precious metals technology company.”
Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s largest platinum producer, ended a long-standing sales and marketing deal it had with Johnson Matthey last year.