FMC to generate $60M from sale of Princeton research center

Philadelphia-based chemical company FMC Corp. hopes to complete the sale of its Princeton research center to a hospital network as soon as the end of March.

This is apparently a deal that’s been percolating since the second quarter of 2006. FMC would sell its office and laboratory buildings on about 150 acres to Princeton Healthcare System, according to the chemical company’s Form 10-K filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

There are a number of conditions that have to be met before the property changes hands. For one thing, the FMC land needs to be rezoned. Other governmental approvals will be needed to enable Princeton Healthcare to develop it for medical use.

FMC executives mentioned the Princeton land sale on their Feb. 7 earnings call with financial analysts. “We continue to believe that the sale should occur late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter. Proceeds from the sale are estimated at approximately $60 million,” said chief financial officer Kim Foster.

FMC makes insecticides and herbicides for the agricultural industry, food ingredients, and industrial chemicals, such as soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. It reported net income of $132.4 million, or $1.71 per share, on revenue of $2.63 billion in 2007.

Given that the Princeton facility is FMC’s major R&D center, what will it do? FMC says this: “We intend to reinvest a portion of these proceeds into new, more cost-efficient research facilities for our Agricultural Products and Specialty Chemicals businesses.”

Not very specific, but it doesn’t sound like the research center will be going to Baltimore. FMC said it decided in June to phase out operations there by the end of the first quarter of 2008.


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