By Frank Esposito, UT Akron Bureau Salt Lake City, Utah-After 35 years as a private plastics and chemicals company, Huntsman Corp. went public 11 Feb. , raising almost $1500 million in a stock offering.Huntsman offered more than 60 million shares of common stock at $23 each and 5 million shares of preferred stock at $50 each. Almost all of the funds raised through the sale will be used to pay down the firm’s debt, which stands at about $6000 million.The common stock closed 15 Feb. at $25.60. An unidentified stockholder added more than 4.5 million shares to the offering, while Huntsman founder and chairman Jon Huntsman also sold $103.5 million of his own stock in the company to finance several charities, according to the Financial Times of London.The Salt Lake City-based firm is a major producer of polyurethane, polypropylene, expanded polystyrene and other speciality chemical products. A downturn in the chemical industry almost bankrupted the company in 2002 before it sold a 49-percent stake to New York investment firm Matlin Patterson Global Opportunities Partners.In September, Huntsman announced plans to build what it claims will be the world´s biggest low-density polyethylene plant, on its site in Wilton, England. The $355-million facility, due to be up and running by the third quarter of 2007, will have annual capacity of almost 410 kilotonnes of LDPE, most of which will be sold into packaging.Huntsman – doing business as HMP Equity Holdings Corp. – lost $226 million in the first nine months of 2004, even as sales grew 21 percent to almost $8400 million. The firm’s polymer sales were up 20 percent in that period, while its polyurethanes sales climbed 23 percent.Unrelated to the IPO, Jon Huntsman Jr resigned his position as a director of HMP Equity Holdings and from all other positions with affiliated companies 3 Jan. – the same day he was sworn in as governor of Utah. Huntsman – who had never held public office – was elected to the post in November, winning 57 percent of the popular vote”
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