A full-fledged conglomerate by 1975, diversification had rendered UOP a slow-growth company, consisting of the Process Division that encompassed its traditional petroleum business – and the Construction, Water, Air Correction and Chemical Divisions. On May 1 that year, The Signal Companies acquired a 50.1-percent majority ownership of the company, and raised its ownership to 100 percent in 1979. That same year, UOP expanded its expertise to natural gas processing with the acquisition of Separex.
UOP continued to operate relatively autonomously until 1983, when Signal dispatched a management team to improve profitability at UOP. Within two years, this team had closed or sold every business not related to oil and gas, returning UOP to its core business.
Signal itself merged with Allied Chemical Corporation on Aug. 6, 1985, creating a formidable competitor in the petrochemical and aerospace markets. At that time, UOP became part of AlliedSignal’s Engineered Materials division.
On Aug. 22, 1988, UOP merged with its longtime rival and collaborator, the Catalyst, Adsorbents and Process Systems (CAPS) division of Union Carbide. The new company – renamed UOP LLC – combined CAPS’s expertise in synthetic molecular sieves with UOP’s expertise in process technology and licensing. As a result of the merger, UOP was now co-owned by AlliedSignal and Union Carbide.
UOP introduced the Oleflex™ process in 1990, an improved process to manufacture gasoline components and building blocks of plastic from propane and isobutene.
In 1995, UOP acquired the Process Technology Licensing business of Unocal. This combined UOP’s leadership in catalytic reforming and catalytic cracking with Unocal’s expertise in hydroprocessing. Also that year, the Riverside facility was recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society.
In 1999, AlliedSignal – by now one of the leading technology and manufacturing companies in the world — announced a $13.8-billion acquisition of Honeywell, combining AlliedSignal’s position in aircraft equipment with Honeywell’s aircraft control and aerospace operations. When the deal closed on Dec. 2 of that year, the new company adopted the Honeywell name for its strong brand recognition.
Also that year, Dow Chemical Company announced plans to acquire Union Carbide, closing the $11.6 billion merger on Feb. 5, 2001. As a result, in little more than a year, UOP went from being jointly owned by AlliedSignal and Union Carbide to being jointly owned by Honeywell and Dow.
In 2003, UOP was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Technology for its history “of sustained leadership and innovation for the worldwide petroleum and petrochemical industries.”