Henkel may be about to sell its speciality chemicals business Cognis as part of a move by the group to focus more on its household product brands. The group is understood to have initiated an auction for Cognis.

The Financial Times reports that the investment bank handling the auction, Merrill Lynch, has sent potential buyers sales memoranda in recent days. 

Cognis, which produces fats & oils, is active in a number of core industrial markets including health and nutrition, where it is a supplier of natural source antioxidants such as vitamin E and mixed carotenoids that can be used in food and beverages. The company is also active in supplying chemicals to the plastics, textiles and leather, coatings and inks, lubricants and agriculture industries.