Dow Chemical to trim about 3 percent of global workforce _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- The Dow Chemical plant in Plaquemine.

Dow Chemical, which has facilities in Louisiana, will cut about 3 percent of its global workforce as it prepares to break off a significant part of its chlorine operations in a deal announced earlier this year with Olin Corp.

The company says the cuts will reduce its workforce by 1,500 to 1,750 positions over the next two years. Dow Chemical employed about 53,000 people worldwide at the end of last year.

Dow’s chlor-alkali and chlor-vinyl businesses and chlorinated organics business in Plaquemine are part of the $5 billion Olin acquisition. Dow has employed about 300 people in the local facilities, which were among 40 included in the deal.

Spokeswoman Rachelle Schikorra said Dow wasn’t releasing the cuts at specific locations.

Olin also employs more than 150 people — more than 100 of them Olin employees and 50-plus contractors — at its St. Gabriel plant.

When Dow first announced plans to sell or spin off its chlorine operations, a state official said workers likely would become employees of a buyer.

Dow, based in Midland, Michigan, said in March that it will receive about $2 billion in cash and cash equivalents and an estimated $2.2 billion in Olin common stock as part of the chlorine business deal. Olin also will take on about $800 million in pensions and other liabilities.

The Dow Chemical Co. will take charges totaling about $330 million to $380 million in the second quarter for asset impairments, severance and other costs tied to the cuts announced Monday.

Last week, Dow also announced that it was selling its AgroFresh specialty chemical business to buy out Boulevard Acquisition Corp. for $860 million.

Dow has been under pressure from hedge fund Third Point LLC to split its specialty chemical and petrochemical businesses.

The company also announced in the fall a three-year, $1 billion “productivity drive” to cut costs and push earnings higher. The cuts announced Monday will address stranded costs from the chlorine business, Chief Financial Officer Howard Ungerleider said in a statement from the company.

Shares of Dow Chemical closed down 4 cents at $51.65 Monday.