Mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. chemical industry has been picking up as chemical companies and private-equity firms try to beat the year-end expiration of cheaper tax rates, industry analysts said. The 15% capital gains tax will increase to 20% in 2011 unless tax cuts are extended by Congress and the Obama administration. "Since mid-spring, we have seen greater deal flow in the chemical industry -- more towards the commodity side," said Drew Shea, managing partner at a U.S.-based private-equity firm.

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