Rohm and Haas’s Former CEO on Pulling Off a Sweet Deal in a Down Market

by Raj Gupta

SHORTLY BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2008, I left my office at the specialty chemicals company Rohm and Haas for what I thought would be the last time. I had spent much of the year leading up to my long-planned retirement orchestrating the sale of the company—a deal with its former rival Dow Chemical had been forged in July 2008—and there was little left to do but hand over the reins. I had succeeded at one of the hardest goals I’d ever been set: quietly negotiating a friendly sale for $18 billion. All we still needed was the Federal Trade Commission approval that, per our agreement, would trigger the close of the deal within 48 hours. As I drove away from the office on ...

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