A COATINGS firm running a County Durham plant will only push ahead with a merger if it proves to be “in the best interest” of the company.

Axalta Coating Systems is talking to AkzoNobel over the potential amalgamation with the latter’s paints and coatings business.

The discussions were revealed earlier this week, with AkzoNobel, which is pumping £11m into a Gateshead research base, saying a tie-up “will create a leading global paints and coatings company.”

However, Axalta, which runs a powder coating factory on Darlington’s Whessoe Road, said it cannot say for certain if a deal will be reached.

The Northern Echo contacted Axalta bases in Germany and Welwyn Garden City, but was unable to get an update on whether any merger would affect its Darlington base.

A spokesman said: “Axalta will pursue such a transaction only if its board of directors determines that it is in the best interest to do so.

“There can be no assurances that a definitive agreement between the parties will be reached or on what terms.”

Axalta is known for operating factories internationally that provide coatings for vehicles, electric motors, building facades and industrial applications that are designed to prevent corrosion and increase durability.

Any merger would mark a line in the sand for AkzoNobel, which is seeking to move forward after fending off a £22.7bn takeover approach from PPG Industries earlier in the year.

It would also complement an ongoing £11m development at a base in Felling, Gateshead, which AkzoNobel says will bring together more than 100 scientists to work on products to protect steel and concrete structures from corrosion, abrasion and fire.

AkzoNobel long argued PPG’s overtures could have caused job losses and has since revealed plans to sell or spin-off its chemicals business by April next year, adding the Axalta merger talks will not affect that separation.

PPG runs a plant overseeing aerospace sealants and coatings in Shildon, County Durham.