By David Reed, UT EditorWest Paterson, New Jersey-Cytec Industries Inc. signed a definitive agreement to purchase the Surface Specialties business of UCB Group, a leading Belgian biopharmaceutical and specialty chemical company, for cash and stock valued at €1500 million ($1800 million). The acquisition was approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to be completed by 31 Dec., but is subject to customary closing conditions including the approval of regulatory authorities, according to 1 Oct. statements from the firms.The move gives Cytec access to a wide range of coating materials and technologies developed by UCB, including a range of polyurethane-based coatings for making waterproof but breathable textiles.The present organisation and facilities of Surface Specialties, including the division's worldwide headquarters in Brussels, are expected to be maintained. Ben Van Assche, the current CEO of Surface Specialties will remain in charge of the division; he will be elected as a corporate officer and appointed as a member of Cytec Executive Committee, the statement added.Cytec, headquartered in West Paterson, claims to be a global technology leader in specialty chemicals and materials. It employs about 4500 people and operates manufacturing and research facilities in 10 countries, generating sales in 2003 of $1500 million. "The acquisition of UCB's Surface Specialties business will provide us critical mass and an excellent position to service the coatings markets with a broad range of resins and additives as well as technical resins serving a wide range of other target markets" said David Lilley, chairman, president and CEO of Cytec, in his firm's prepared statement.For UCB the move is a continuation of a strategy aimed at making the firm a pure biopharmaceutical company."This is an historical event for UCB," added Georges Jacobs, chairman of the executive committee of the Belgian firm, pointing out that the Specialties unit contained all of its non-pharmaceutical activities, and represented half of his firm's turnover."