Specialty chemicals maker Clariant is splitting its textile, leather and paper businesses by the end of this year, in a move that could lead to a sale of one or all of the units.

The company said the change will enable each business to be managed as a stand-alone unit, "providing the operational and strategic flexibility required to improve their profitability."

Clariant, which makes chemicals used for pre-treatment, dyeing, printing and finishing of leather and textiles, also said Mathias Lütgendorf will take over responsibility for the textile, leather and paper businesses as well as for the company's Asian region.

He replaces Peter Brandenberg who is retiring after a 38-year career with Clariant.

Lütgendorf joins from textile dyes and chemicals producer DyStar where he was responsible for global operations.

Clariant's CEO Hariolf Kottmann said the appointment "will ensure we navigate our textile, leather and paper businesses through difficult times while at the same time increasing our footprint in Asia."