Belgian chemicals and plastics group Solvay has made a EUR3.4bn (US$4.9bn) takeover bid for its French rival Rhodia, maker of the Amni polyamide 6.6 yarn used in fashion, lingerie and sportswear.

The deal will create a world leader in the sector with combined sales of EUR12bn, 40% of which are generated in emerging markets.

Solvay employs about 16,800 people in 40 countries and makes products such as specialty polymers, soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. Rhodia, meanwhile, has 14,000 workers and focuses on specialty materials like silica and rare earths, surfactants, natural polymers, acetate tow and products based on polyamide 6.6.

The deal is due be closed by late August.