Kline Raises the Bar on Sustainability Efforts with Events, Initiatives

Kline Raises the Bar on Sustainability Efforts with Events, Initiatives

Kline & Co. has proven its commitment to sustainability with a spate of recent events.

Late last month, our London team gathered at Romney Marsh in Kent for its third annual Bumblebee Day in support of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The event, organized by Duncan Lawie, Vice President of Technology, and led by Dr. Nikki Gammans, drew a group of 21 volunteers (including family members).

“We returned to a field that we worked on last year,” says Lawie, who jokes that “we think it might one day be renamed Kline Corner.” “We spent a good part of the day clearing ground and planting Comfrey, as well as preparing ground for other wildflowers, all of which provide great forage for the bumblebees and other pollinators. This also included raking off grass, to a compost area in the corner, as removing the nutrients helps the wildflowers.”

Kline’s London team after a day at Romney Marsh

Kline’s London team after a day at Romney Marsh

Meanwhile, in Prague, team members just spent the day volunteering at Toulcův dvůr, a non-profit organization that offers environmental programs for children and educational events for the public; it also works to preserve native species of animals from central Europe and preserve natural wetland

After our cohorts spent the day maintaining one of the site's horse graze areas and helping with compost production, Analyst Carlos Galan, who organized the event, said, “It was a great day to meet up with colleagues and do something special together -- we're hoping to make our visit to Toulcův dvůr an annual event.”

Kline’s Prague team after volunteering at Toulcův dvůr

Kline’s Prague team after volunteering at Toulcův dvůr

Meanwhile, our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) endeavors recently included a “feeding the hungry” initiative. Members of the Kline Analyst Academy in India – a program that offers full-time opportunities to graduates who are looking to kick-start their career in the market research industry -- prepared Dal and rice together, then doled out meals to some 250 people at the Old Delhi railway station.  

The Kline Analyst Academy in India during a “feed the hungry” event

The Kline Analyst Academy in India during a “feed the hungry” event

Kline’s commitment to sustainability started gaining traction when Fokus Zukunft was commissioned to evaluate our global operations in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used and recognized international standard for accounting for greenhouse gas emissions of companies. Kline then implemented major initiatives to help all of offices and employees reduce our carbon footprints.

Share this:

Kline’s M&A Spotlight: OQ Chemicals

Kline’s M&A Spotlight: OQ Chemicals

Commencing with this article, each month we will shine our spotlight on a confirmed or potential M&A candidate, sharing our point of view – and expertise – on the opportunities that we see. This month, in our inaugural offering, we focus on OQ Chemicals and its potential divestiture by parent company OQ.  


OQ, an integrated energy company that is wholly owned by the Government of Oman, is currently considering divesting OQ Chemicals (formerly known as Oxea), a German company that it acquired eight years ago from private-equity owner Advent International for slightly over USD 2 billion. At the time of purchase, Oman sought to tap into increasing demand for oxo-based chemicals.  


OQ is now looking to use its energy assets to raise money and reduce a budget deficit that skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely impacted oil prices and tourism within Oman. To help offset the negative effects of the economic downturn, the company initiated a number of OpEx (operating expenditure) and CapEx (capital expenditure) optimization projects. In divesting OQ Chemicals, OQ, like Saudi Aramco and other Gulf oil producers, seeks to capitalize on a rebound in crude prices to attract foreign investors. Discussions about the potential divestiture of OQ Chemicals are ongoing, although there is no certainty that they will result in a sale. 

Positioning and Performance 

OQ Chemicals, a leading manufacturer of oxo-intermediates and oxo derivatives, is recognized for its integrated production platform of oxo aldehydes and oxo aldehyde derivatives such as oxo-alcohols, polyols, acids, esters, and amines. These products are used in the manufacturing of a wide range of products, including paints, coatings, adhesives, lubricant additives, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, flavorings and fragrances, printing inks, plastics, and animal-feed products. Among OQ Chemicals’ downstream oxo derivative products, its amines and esters have the highest rolled margin. 

Kline’s M&A Spotlight: OQ Chemicals

OQ Chemicals’ business achieved net revenue of 1.056 billion euros in 2020. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) were in excess of 10% in each of the company’s segments, with an overall average of 12%. 

Kline’s M&A Spotlight: OQ Chemicals

Why We Consider OQ Chemicals an Attractive Purchase 

“OQ Chemicals has a growing international footprint, with strategically positioned production sites in which it has made significant investments,” says Hardeep Parmar, Vice President of the firm’s global M&A and Corporate Development practice. The company serves attractive growth markets in attractive regions, making it quite nimble.” OQ Chemicals is also very technically astute, observes Parmar. 

Kline’s M&A Spotlight: OQ Chemicals

“Another factor very much working to OQ Chemicals’ advantage is that the field in which it competes is not very crowded,” says Dilip Chandwani, Head of Kline Management Consulting’s Process Industries and Manufacturing Competitiveness practices. The company is one of the four leading producers of oxo intermediates and oxo derivatives globally among top players like BASF, Eastman, and Grupa Azoty. 

Potential Risks 

It’s not yet clear what effect the Ukraine/Russia war will have on the industry. "Germany,” says Parmar, “where OQ Chemicals has two manufacturing plants, is vulnerable to Russia disrupting — or even completely halting — the country’s supply of natural gas due to Germany’s refusal to pay for its supply in rubles.” Germany currently obtains more than 50% of its natural gas from Russia and has stated that it will not achieve full independence from Russian supplies before mid-2024. As such, Parmar believes that oxo-alcohol prices will likely continue to rise, particularly in Europe. 

Parmar also sees potential challenges stemming from the cyclical markets OQ Chemicals serves, in addition to the availability of raw materials, price sensitivities, and increasing competition in Asia. 

Possible Suitors 

Because it already has a presence and strong brand awareness in Asia, OQ Chemicals may appeal to a major feedstock producer looking to go downstream. Private-equity firms may also be interested in supporting OQ Chemicals’ growth into a global stand-alone player.  

How We Can Help Potential Acquirers Vet This Opportunity 

Kline has a strong appreciation of oxo-aldehyde and derivatives including alcohols, polyols, acids, esters, and amines through end-use application markets. We may be the only specialty chemicals consultancy worldwide that has access to experts across the entire value chain, from raw materials and products to end-consumer markets. Our technical and commercial capabilities across the value chain enable us to support clients in assessing opportunities for growth within this space, identifying risks, and mitigating against risks.  

Our analysis capability includes assessing: 

  • Competitive technical and market landscapes 
  • End application markets and customers 
  • Technology and operational benchmarking  
  • Growth opportunities
  • R&D activities 
  • Business models 

About our M&A practice 

Kline’s M&A practice provides advisory services for buy- and sell-side mandates, in addition to project finance support. Services are built around integrated competency platforms that include acquisition-led growth strategies, commercial and technical due diligence, manufacturing competitiveness, deal origination, and capital-raising support. 

About this article 

Kline’s M&A Spotlight: OQ Chemicals contains insights from Hardeep Parmar and Dilip Chandwani. 

Parmar, Vice President of the firm’s global M&A and Corporate Development practice, has worked with Kline for approximately seven years and holds specific expertise in commercial engagements across the chemicals value chain. Her experience includes delivering buy- and sell-side due diligence support, in addition to independent market consulting services through to strategic growth assignments. Prior to Kline, Parmar spent more than 15 years in chemicals consulting, working with clients in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  

Chandwani heads Kline Management Consulting’s Process Industries and Manufacturing Competitiveness practices. He has more than 40 years of experience in a variety of process and manufacturing industries and has assisted numerous clients with market analysis, technology and manufacturing competitiveness, performance improvement, and identifying/evaluating new business opportunities. During his 30 years with Kline, Chandwani has helped clients grow their business and improve profitability.  

Press inquiries 
Lance Debler 
Content Marketing Manager  
Kline & Company  

Share this:

Asian Women in Business

Asian Women in Business: How a Kline Consultant is Breaking Barriers

Breaking barriers, challenging tradition, and exceeding expectations – Kline Consultant Liya Zeng talked about all that, and much more, as a panelist at the ICBS Asia Business Club's discussion on "Women in Business" last week. 

The group, which provides resources and networking opportunities for students interested in business topics and career opportunities in Asia, exists under the umbrella of Imperial College Business School (ICBS) in London, from which Zeng received an M.S. in Management. And, as she detailed during the panel discussion, her road to higher education and the life she wanted to lead wasn’t exactly a smooth one. 

“I'm from a very small town – like a Tier-6 town – in Guangdong Province in Mainland China, and my family is quite traditional,” recounted Zeng, who now lives in London. “In traditional Asian families, girls are told what they can do and what they cannot do.”  The “can’t do’s” included things as benign as whistling in public (it wasn’t “ladylike”), while the “can do’s” included learning to cook (after all, a girl would someday have to take care of a husband and children). 

With such limited plans for Zeng’s future, it may come as a surprise that her family had little issue with her desire to attend college (but just wait – there’s a catch). At first, Zeng enrolled at a pharmaceutical university as a nursing major before swiftly realizing her interests lay in business. But in China, a change in studies isn’t easy.

“I couldn’t transfer to any other program except one – it was an exchange program focusing on international marketing,” she recalled. Her first three years of college would take place in China, and the last would occur in the United Kingdom – a prospect that brought its own set of challenges.


“I had been in a small town for the first 20 years of my life,” Zeng said. “I hadn’t been to any other country – I hadn’t even been to any other province. I’d never traveled anywhere. And, of course, my parents didn’t believe it was okay for a girl to travel alone.” 

But travel alone she did. During her studies in Leicester, Zeng followed the path of management consulting after being inspired by a professor; after graduation, she stayed in the U.K. for an accounting internship, then went back to China for another internship at Deloitte Consulting. Along the way, she decided that a master’s degree would be imperative to obtaining work as a consultant, so she began “secretly” applying to programs. 

Why the covertness? Zeng said she knew her parents would oppose her intentions because a master’s would be overkill; while they supported her endeavors to obtain an undergraduate degree – remember that catch? – they didn’t think she’d actually use it.

“My dad was fine with an education, but he said that a career isn’t important,” Zeng recalled. “He said, ‘You should just get a guy and get married – that's the most important thing.’ And I said, ‘Even if I get married, I still need my career, right?’ And he said, ‘You don’t have to. If you marry a man who is rich enough, you can just be a housewife.’ That’s the kind of environment a lot of Asian females grew up in.”

Before long, though, Zeng’s father came around and endorsed her pursuit of a master’s in the U.K.; her mother, not so much.

“She told me, ‘If you were a boy, I would support you – but you are a girl,” Zeng remembered.  

Tough words, but they caused no acrimony.  “In China – or maybe South China – parents are more willing to invest in boys rather than girls,” Zeng said. “It’s very hard to blame my parents for how they felt, because they grew up in that environment.  I understand them, and I know where their beliefs come from.”


Despite her mother’s objections, Zeng headed for Imperial College. She got her master’s degree and, in July 2019, was hired as a consultant in the Energy practice of Kline & Company. Immediately, Zeng knew she was at the right place.

“I’ve got two bosses who are female. Kline is very good on that end – or I’m just lucky with Yana and Annie,” Zeng said, referring to Vice President of Energy Yana Wilkinson and Vice President of Energy Management Consulting Annie Jarquin.  

Probably a little of both: As we proudly touted on International Women’s Day earlier this month, 54% of Kline's top leadership is female, and a full 100% of Kline's industry verticals are led by women.

Asian Women in Business

Liya, second from right, at the “Women in Business” panel discussion 

It was Wilkinson, in fact, who once helped Zeng over a major hurdle in her life – a story she recounted at the "Women in Business" discussion when asked how she balances her career with family. 

“My mom was not well last year – she needed a major operation – so I was struggling a bit,” Zeng recalled.  “I wanted to go back to China to take care of her. Yana supported me. She said, ‘Yes, you should go.’ So in the end, I managed to get to China for five months to stay with my mom, and I continued working, remotely, until she recuperated.” 

With such strong female support, Zeng told the ICBS audience, she felt immediately welcomed as a female professional. And despite initial trepidations about being a newcomer in London, Zeng said the capital of the U.K. turned out to be “a very diverse city where there’s a lot of inclusion, and people respect each other.” Instead, perhaps surprisingly, she said her biggest challenges come from the person you might least expect: herself.


“It was not easy for me to change my mindset, personally, to go from a girl to a businesswoman,” Zeng said. “In Asian culture, we were taught that you should not be too aggressive, and that influenced me. At first, I was relatively quiet – I thought that I had to observe what other people were saying, what other people were thinking, instead of talking myself. Even now, I sometimes have trouble when I want to speak up; I’m still learning to overcome this mental barrier. And I want to encourage everyone who has had similar experiences to be brave, to challenge traditions and challenge that mentality.”

“Women are never alone in this mental dilemma – a lot of us deal with it,” she continued, before noting that even her Kline contemporaries have had challenges working in the Energy sector, which is predominantly male. “Yana and Annie are my role models – they’ve shared their own stories with me. They had to make a lot of effort to achieve what they have today.” 

Zeng has help other than that from Wilkinson and Jarquin.

“I'm reading a book called Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. In it, the writer gives a model,” she said, before laughing at her use of the word “model” and noting that it comes from her consultant’s mindset.  “There are four main steps in the writer’s model, and the first step is being aware. The first step for change is always awareness. And now I’m aware of my own behavior and thinking, so I can gradually make more changes. I look forward to implementing all of them – making myself an experiment and seeing many more changes in me and my career.”

And with that evolution, the girl who was once forbidden to even whistle is singing a happy tune – all while ensuring that she shares everything she’s learned with other women. In fact, she’s on the executive committee for Chinese Women in the City (CWIC), a non-profit organization of 500+ members that empowers female professionals of Chinese heritage. She also established a club called Chinese Consultants in the U.K., which has 100+ members of Chinese consultants working in the management/strategy consulting area.

“Our events focus on the challenges women face in the business world, how to empower women, and how to fit in despite cultural differences and gender issues,” Zeng said. “And most of all, we talk about how, someday, we’ll finally break the glass ceiling.”

Share this: