Quiver Quantitative

Risk Factors Dashboard

Once a year, publicly traded companies issue a comprehensive report of their business, called a 10-K. A component mandated in the 10-K is the ‘Risk Factors’ section, where companies disclose any major potential risks that they may face. This dashboard highlights all major changes and additions in new 10K reports, allowing investors to quickly identify new potential risks and opportunities.

Risk Factors - VVV

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

The following “risk factors” could materially and adversely affect Valvoline’s business, operations, financial position or future financial performance. This information should be considered when reading the rest of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including Management’s Discussion and Analysis and the consolidated financial statements and related notes. These factors could cause future results to differ from those in forward-looking statements and from historical trends.

Risks related to the industries in which Valvoline operates

Because of the concentration of Valvoline’s sales to a small number of customers, the loss of one or more, or a significant reduction in orders from, its top customers could adversely affect its financial results, as could the loss of one of its distributor relationships.

Valvoline’s Global Products segment’s sales represented approximately 59% of Valvoline’s total sales in fiscal 2021. Five key DIY retail channel customers together accounted for 28% of Global Products' fiscal 2021 sales and 43% of the Company’s outstanding trade accounts receivable as of September 30, 2021. One of these key customers accounted for approximately 11% of Global Products' fiscal 2021 sales. Valvoline’s volume of sales to these customers fluctuates and can be influenced by many factors, including product pricing, competition for shelf space, purchasing patterns and promotional activities. For example, Valvoline has had mixed results with its DIY retail channel customers shifting shelf distribution towards private label lubricant products, which has negative impacts on Global Products' retail channel DIY branded lubricant sales. For example, Valvoline’s retail customers have increasingly shifted shelf distribution towards private label lubricant products, which has negatively impacted Core North America’s retail channel DIY branded lubricant sales. Additionally, many of Valvoline’s retail customers have changed their promotional strategies, increasing the frequency and number of brands promoted at any given time, including private label, which has further negatively impacted branded lubricant sales within the retail channel. In response to these market dynamics, Valvoline has strengthened its consumer messaging, optimized pricing in relation to these promotional strategies and focused its efforts on increasing synthetic lubricant sales; however, if those strategies are not effective, or if Valvoline is unable to adapt to changing market dynamics, Valvoline’s results of operations could be negatively affected. The loss of, or significant reduction in orders from, one of Valvoline’s top five retail customers or any other significant customer could have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows, as could customer disputes regarding shipments, fees, merchandise condition or related matters. Valvoline’s inability to collect accounts receivable from one of its major customers, or a significant deterioration in the financial condition of one of these customers, including a bankruptcy filing or a liquidation, could also have a material adverse effect on Valvoline’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

Valvoline also relies on independent distributors to sell and deliver its products. The consolidation of distributors, loss of a relationship with a distributor, significant disagreement with a distributor, or significant deterioration in the financial condition of a distributor could also have a material adverse effect on Valvoline’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

Valvoline faces significant competition from other companies, which places downward pressure on prices and margins and may adversely affect Valvoline’s business and results of operations.

Valvoline operates in highly competitive markets, competing against a number of domestic and international companies. Competition is based on several key criteria, including brand recognition, product performance and quality, product price, product availability and security of supply, ability to develop products in cooperation with customers and customer service, as well as the ability to bring innovative products or services to the marketplace. Certain key competitors, including Shell/Pennzoil, BP/Castrol and Exxon/Mobil, are significantly larger than Valvoline and have greater financial resources and more diverse portfolios of products and services, leading to greater operating and financial flexibility. As a result, these competitors may be better able to withstand adverse changes in conditions within the relevant industry, retail market dynamics, the prices of raw materials and energy or general economic conditions. In addition, competitors’ pricing decisions could compel Valvoline to decrease its prices, which could negatively affect Valvoline’s margins and profitability.

Valvoline continues to see increasing competition from private label competitors, which has negatively impacted branded lubricant sales in the retail channel as price gaps between private label and branded products has grown. Further competition from private label competitors, including the entry of new private label competitors, or additional
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competition in markets served by Valvoline, could adversely affect margins and profitability and could lead to a reduction in market share. Also, Valvoline competes in certain markets that are relatively flat to declining, such as the U.S. passenger car motor oil market. If Valvoline’s strategies for dealing with these markets and leveraging market opportunities are not successful, its results of operations could be negatively affected.

Rising and volatile raw material costs and supply-chain constraints or disruptions could adversely affect Valvoline’s results of operations.

Increases in raw material prices, including those from inflationary pressures or from supply chain constraints such as those experienced in fiscal 2021 for base oils and additives, have in the past and may continue in the future to adversely impact Valvoline’s costs, results of operations and the valuation of its inventory. In fiscal 2021, results were impacted by significant rising raw material costs, a substantial portion of which were passed through to customers through a series of price increases. Pricing actions generally lag material cost increases as many customer contracts are negotiated, with a smaller but meaningful portion indexed to accommodate changes in base oil prices. Although Valvoline expects lingering price-cost lag to impact the first half of 2022, the Company is making progress passing these cost increases through and expects to execute additional pricing actions in the first half of fiscal 2022. Valvoline may not always be able to raise prices in response to increased costs of raw materials or may experience a lag in passing through such cost increases, as the ability to pass on the costs of such price increases is largely dependent upon market conditions. Likewise, reductions in the valuation of Valvoline’s inventory due to market volatility may not be recovered and could result in losses.

Valvoline purchases certain products and raw materials from suppliers, often pursuant to written supply contracts. If those suppliers are unable to meet Valvoline’s orders in a timely manner or choose to terminate or otherwise avoid contractual arrangements, Valvoline may not be able to make alternative supply arrangements or may face increased costs from alternative suppliers. For base oils, Valvoline’s suppliers are primarily large oil producers, many of whom operate oil lubricant production and sales businesses as part of their enterprise. There are risks inherent in obtaining important raw materials from actual or potential competitors, including the risk that applicable antitrust laws may be inadequate to mitigate Valvoline’s exposure to these risks. Valvoline purchases substantially all of its lubricant additives from four key suppliers. Because the industry is characterized by a limited number of lubricant additives suppliers, there are a limited number of alternative suppliers with whom Valvoline could transact in the event of a disruption to its existing supply relationships; for example, due to disruptions to its suppliers' operations caused by natural disasters, severe weather conditions, climate change, significant changes in trade regulations, increases in costs, or any deterioration in the financial viability of or relationships with its key suppliers.

In fiscal 2021, certain of Valvoline's suppliers began to experience disruptions in their supply chain as demand overwhelmed supply related partially to pandemic shutdowns and adverse weather events along the Gulf Coast, notably the unprecedented freezing in Texas, that impacted many chemical suppliers in those areas. Valvoline worked with its key suppliers to manage through the challenges and is continuing to monitor the constraints, expecting some lingering impacts in the first half of fiscal 2022. Should conditions such as supply chain congestion or availability related to severe weather or climate conditions worsen, become more severe or last for an extended period of time, Valvoline's supply of raw materials or other products could impact its ability to meet customer demands.

Also, domestic and global government regulations related to the manufacture or transport of certain raw materials may impede Valvoline’s ability to obtain those raw materials on commercially reasonable terms. If Valvoline is unable to obtain and retain qualified suppliers under commercially acceptable terms, its ability to manufacture and deliver products in a timely, competitive and profitable manner or grow its business successfully could be adversely affected.

Demand for Valvoline’s products and services could be adversely affected by consumer spending trends, declining economic conditions, industry trends and a number of other factors, all of which are beyond its control.

Demand for Valvoline’s products and services may be affected by a number of factors it cannot control, including the number and age of vehicles in current service, regulation and legislation, technological advances in the automotive industry and changes in engine technology, including the adoption rate of electric or other alternative engine technologies, changing automotive OEM specifications and longer recommended intervals between oil changes. In addition, during periods of declining economic conditions, consumers may defer vehicle maintenance.
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Similarly, increases in energy prices or other factors may cause miles driven to decline, resulting in less vehicle wear and tear and lower demand for maintenance, which may lead to consumers deferring purchases of Valvoline’s products and services. All of these factors, which impact metrics such as drain intervals and oil changes per day, could result in a decline in the demand for Valvoline’s products and services and adversely affect its sales, cash flows and overall financial condition.

Failure to develop and market new products, services and production technologies could impact Valvoline’s competitive position and have an adverse effect on its business and results of operations.

The lubricants industry is subject to periodic technological change and ongoing product improvements. To maintain margins and remain competitive, Valvoline must successfully innovate and introduce new products, improvements or services that appeal to its customers and global consumers. Changes in additive technologies, base oil production techniques and sources, and the demand for improved performance by OEMs and consumers place particular pressure on Valvoline to continue to improve its product offerings. In addition, the adoption of electric vehicles is increasing and is expected to increase at a faster pace in future years as certain states and international governments implement limits on the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines, which reduces demand for lubricants, but expands the opportunity for other products and services required by electric vehicles, including coolants, fluids and greases. If Valvoline is unable to develop and market products and services for electric vehicles, its business and results of operations could be adversely impacted. As automotive technologies evolve, Valvoline could be required to comply with any new or stricter laws or regulations, which could require additional expenditures by Valvoline or its suppliers and could adversely impact business results.

Valvoline’s efforts to respond to changes in consumer demand in a timely and cost-efficient manner to drive growth could be adversely affected by difficulties or delays in product development and service innovation, including the inability to identify viable new products, successfully complete research and development, obtain regulatory approvals, obtain intellectual property protection or gain market acceptance of new products or service techniques. Further, Valvoline’s efforts to respond to changes in consumer demand in a timely and cost-efficient manner to drive growth could be adversely affected by difficulties or delays in product development and service innovation, including the inability to identify viable new products, successfully complete research and development, obtain regulatory approvals, obtain intellectual property protection or gain market acceptance of new products or service techniques. Due to the lengthy development process, technological challenges and intense competition, there can be no assurance that any of the products or services Valvoline is currently developing, or could develop in the future, will achieve substantial commercial success. The time and expense invested in product development may not result in commercial products or provide revenues. Valvoline could be required to write-off its investments related to a new product that does not reach commercial viability. Moreover, Valvoline may experience operating losses after new products are introduced and commercialized because of high start-up costs, unexpected manufacturing costs or problems, or lack of demand.

Damage to Valvoline’s brand and reputation could have an adverse effect on its business.

Maintaining Valvoline’s strong reputation with both consumers and customers is a key component of its business. Product liability claims, false advertising claims, product or service complaints or recalls, its inability to ship, sell or transport affected products and governmental investigations could result in substantial and unexpected expenditures and affect consumer or customer confidence in Valvoline's products and services, which may materially and adversely affect its business operations, decrease sales and increase costs. Additionally, as consumers are shifting to more environmentally-conscious electric and hybrid vehicles, the inability of Valvoline to continue its development of new products and services to adapt to those changing demands could affect the Company's reputation as an environmentally friendly choice for vehicle care and could reduce demand for its products. Further, legislators, consumers, investors and other stakeholders are increasingly focusing on environmental, social and governance policies of companies. This focus could result in new or increased legislation or disclosure requirements. In the event that such requirements result in increased costs or a negative perception of the Company, there could be an adverse effect on the business or its results of operations.

Valvoline manufactures and markets a variety of products, such as automotive and industrial lubricants and automotive coolants and chemicals, and provides automotive maintenance services. If allegations are made that some of Valvoline’s products have failed to perform up to consumers’ or customers’ expectations or have caused damage or injury to individuals or property, or that Valvoline’s services were not provided in a manner consistent with its vision and values, the public may develop a negative perception of Valvoline and its brands. In addition, if Valvoline’s franchisees, Express Care and joint venture operators experience service failures or do not successfully operate their quick lube service centers in a manner consistent with Valvoline’s standards, its brand, image and reputation could be harmed, which in turn could negatively impact its business and operating results. In addition, if
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any party with whom Valvoline has a sponsorship relationship were to generate negative publicity, Valvoline's brand image could be harmed. A negative public perception of Valvoline’s brands, whether justified or not, could impair its reputation, involve it in litigation, damage its brand equity and have a material adverse effect on its business. In addition, damage to the reputation of Valvoline’s competitors or others in its industry could negatively impact Valvoline’s reputation and business.

Risks related to executing Valvoline’s strategy

The proposed separation of Valvoline’s two business segments, Retail Services and Global Products, could be disruptive to Valvoline’s business and operations, and there can be no assurance that it will provide business benefits or that it will be consummated within any specified time period or at all.

On October 12, 2021, Valvoline announced that, following a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives by Valvoline’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) and executive management, it is pursuing the separation of its two business segments, Retail Services and Global Products (the “Proposed Separation”). Valvoline is working with its outside advisors on determining the best way to accomplish the Proposed Separation. No timetable has been established for the completion of the Proposed Separation, and Valvoline does not intend to disclose further developments with respect to this process, unless and until the Board approves a specific transaction or action. There are many factors that could impact the structure or timing of, or Valvoline’s determination to proceed with, the Proposed Separation, including global economic conditions, tax considerations, market conditions and changes in the regulatory or legal environment, any of which could adversely impact the value of the Proposed Separation to Valvoline’s shareholders.

The Proposed Separation, if consummated, involves risks, including potential difficulties associated with the separation of operations, services and personnel, potential disruption in Valvoline’s operations or businesses, the potential loss of, or inability to recruit, key employees and potential adverse effects on relationships with key customers and other business counterparties. In addition, Valvoline will incur significant expense in connection with pursuing the Proposed Separation. Pursuing the Proposed Separation will require significant amounts of management time and effort, which may divert management’s attention from other aspects of Valvoline’s business operations. If Valvoline does not successfully manage these risks, Valvoline’s business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

The Proposed Separation may not achieve the intended results, or results may take longer to realize than expected. Unanticipated developments could delay, prevent or otherwise adversely affect the Proposed Separation, including disruptions in general market conditions, the capital markets or other developments. The anticipated benefits of the Proposed Separation are based on a number of assumptions, some of which may prove incorrect. In addition, Valvoline cannot assure that it will be able to complete the Proposed Separation within any specified timeline, or at all. Delays or failure to consummate the Proposed Separation could negatively affect Valvoline’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

Valvoline has set aggressive growth goals for its business, including increasing sales, cash flow, market share, margins and number of Retail Services stores, to achieve its long-term strategic objectives. Execution of Valvoline’s growth strategies and business plans to facilitate that growth involves a number of risks.

Valvoline has set aggressive growth goals for its business to meet its long-term strategic objectives and improve shareholder value by aggressively growing Retail Services organically and through acquisitions, and developing Global Products with the goal of becoming a more service-driven business.Valvoline has set aggressive growth goals for its business to meet its long-term strategic objectives and improve shareholder value by aggressively growing Quick Lubes organically and through acquisitions, maintaining Core North America and developing International with the goal of becoming a more service-driven business. Valvoline’s failure to meet one or more of these goals or objectives could negatively impact its business and is one of the most important risks that Valvoline faces. Aspects of that risk include, among others, changes to the global economy, failure to identify acquisition targets or real estate for new stores to grow Retail Services, construction costs or delays limiting new store growth, failure to develop products or services for electric vehicles, changes to the competitive landscape, including those related to automotive maintenance recommendations and consumer preferences, continued private label growth, entry of new competitors, failure to grow the Valvoline brand internationally, attraction and retention of skilled employees, failure to successfully develop and implement digital platforms to support the Company’s growth initiatives, the potential failure of product innovation plans, failure to comply with existing or new regulatory
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requirements, failure to maintain a competitive cost structure and other risks outlined in greater detail in this “Risk Factors” section.

Valvoline's performance is highly dependent on attracting and retaining appropriately qualified employees in its service center stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers, research and development facilities, and corporate offices. A tight labor market in fiscal 2021 and continuing into fiscal 2022, has led to challenges in staffing service center stores due to labor shortages as a number of trends conflate reflecting changing demographics, governmental policies, employee sentiment, and technological change. In response, Valvoline made labor investments and enhanced its recruiting programs to attract new employees. As trends in the labor market evolve, the Company may experience future challenges in recruiting and retaining talent in various locations. Valvoline operates in a competitive labor market, and failure to recruit or retain qualified employees in the future, or the Company's inability to implement corresponding adjustments to its labor model, including compensation and benefit packages, could impair the Company's ability to grow and meet its strategic goals.

Valvoline may be unable to execute its growth strategy, and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances and investments could result in operating difficulties, dilution and other harmful consequences that may adversely impact Valvoline’s business and results of operations.

Acquisitions, particularly for the Retail Services business segment, are an important element of Valvoline’s overall growth strategy.Acquisitions, particularly for the Quick Lubes business segment, are an important element of Valvoline’s overall growth strategy. Valvoline had strong acquisition growth in fiscal 2021, and has developed a pipeline of future viable targets expected to complement the segment's strong growth initiatives. An insufficient quantity of strategic acquisition targets in the marketplace, or the inability of Valvoline to successfully acquire those targets, may have a negative impact on Valvoline's future results. In addition, building strategic alliances for distribution and manufacturing, particularly in international markets, including through joint venture partnerships, product distribution and toll manufacturing arrangements, are also an important element of Valvoline’s overall growth strategy. Valvoline expects to continue to evaluate and enter into discussions regarding a wide array of potential strategic transactions, and to continue to grow its Retail Services business organically and through acquisitions. Valvoline expects to continue to evaluate and enter into discussions regarding a wide array of potential strategic transactions, and to continue to grow its Quick Lubes business organically and through acquisitions. An inability to execute these plans could have a material adverse impact on Valvoline’s financial condition and results of operations. In addition, the anticipated benefits of Valvoline’s acquisitions may not be realized and the process of integrating an acquired company, business, or product may create unforeseen operating difficulties or expenditures.

Valvoline’s acquisitions, investments and strategic alliances could also result in dilutive issuances of its equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities or amortization expenses, impairment of goodwill or purchased long-lived assets and restructuring charges, any of which could harm its financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

The business model for Valvoline’s Retail Services business, including its relationships with franchisees, presents a number of risks.

The Retail Services business is made up of a network of both company-operated and franchised stores. Valvoline’s success relies in part on the financial success and cooperation of its franchisees. However, Valvoline has limited influence over their operations. Valvoline’s franchisees manage their businesses independently and are responsible for the day-to-day operations of approximately 55% of Retail Services stores as of September 30, 2021. Valvoline’s royalty, product, and other revenues from franchised stores are largely dependent on franchisee sales. Valvoline’s franchisees manage their businesses independently and are responsible for the day-to-day operations of approximately 60% of Quick Lube system stores as of September 30, 2020. Valvoline’s royalty and other payments from franchised stores are largely dependent on franchisee sales. Valvoline’s revenues and margins could be negatively affected should franchisees experience limited or no sales growth, or if the franchisee fails to fulfill its obligations under negotiated business development, franchise, or supply agreements with Valvoline. If sales or business performance trends worsen for franchisees, their financial results may deteriorate, which could result in, among other things, store closures, delayed or reduced royalties and purchases and reduced growth in the number of Retail Services stores. In addition, if sales or business performance trends worsen for franchisees, their financial results may deteriorate, which could result in, among other things, store closures, delayed or reduced royalty payments to Valvoline and reduced growth in the number of Quick Lube stores.

Valvoline’s success also depends on the willingness and ability of its independent franchisees to implement major initiatives, which may require additional investment by them, and to remain aligned with Valvoline on operating, promotional and capital-intensive reinvestment plans.Valvoline’s success also depends on the willingness and ability of its independent franchisees to implement major initiatives, which may require additional investment by them, and remain aligned with Valvoline on operating, promotional and capital-intensive reinvestment plans. The ability of Valvoline’s franchisees to contribute to the achievement of Valvoline’s overall plans is dependent in large part on the availability of funding to its franchisees at reasonable interest rates and may be negatively impacted by the financial markets in general or the creditworthiness of individual franchisees. The size of Valvoline’s largest franchisees creates additional risk due to their importance to Retail Services' growth strategy, requiring their cooperation and alignment with Valvoline’s initiatives. The size of Valvoline’s largest franchisees creates additional risk due to their importance to Quick Lube's growth strategy, requiring their cooperation and alignment with Valvoline’s initiatives.
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Valvoline is the primary supplier of products to all Retail Services stores. The growth and performance of Valvoline’s lubricants and other product lines depends in large part on the performance of its Retail Services business, potentially amplifying the negative effect of the other risks related to the Retail Services business model. The growth and performance of Valvoline’s lubricants and other product lines depends in large part on the performance of its Quick Lubes business, potentially amplifying the negative effect of the other risks related to the Quick Lubes business model.

Valvoline shares in ownership of joint ventures, which may limit its ability to manage third-party risks associated with these projects.

For financial or strategic reasons, Valvoline conducts a portion of its business through joint ventures. Valvoline's joint ventures, particularly its existing 50/50 joint ventures with Cummins in India, China and Argentina, are an important part of the Company's international growth strategy. Joint ventures, particularly Valvoline’s existing 50/50 joint ventures with Cummins in India, China and Argentina, are an important part of its growth strategy internationally. In its joint ventures, while Valvoline shares influence over the operation of the joint venture and its assets, it does not have a controlling interest or vote. In these joint ventures, Valvoline shares influence over the operation of the joint venture and its assets, but does not have a controlling interest or vote. Therefore, joint ventures may involve risks such as the possibility that a joint venture partner in an investment might become bankrupt, be unable to meet its capital contribution obligations, have economic or business interests or goals that are inconsistent with Valvoline's business interests or goals, or take actions that are contrary to Valvoline's direction or to applicable laws and regulations.

Further, Valvoline is a supplier to certain of its joint venture partners that sell to their end customers. If Valvoline’s relationship with one or more of its partners were to deteriorate, it could negatively impact Valvoline’s ability to reach and penetrate certain global markets and achieve its growth goals. If Valvoline’s relationship with one of its joint venture partners were to deteriorate, it could negatively impact Valvoline’s ability to achieve its growth goals internationally. In addition, joint venture partners could take actions that violate the terms of its investment agreements with Valvoline, or Valvoline may be unable to gain concurrence with its joint venture partners to take desired actions with its investments. In addition, joint venture partners could take actions binding on the joint venture without Valvoline's consent, or Valvoline may be unable to take action without the concurrence of its joint venture partners. Additionally, actions by joint ventures, joint venture partners or other third-parties could expose Valvoline to claims for damages, financial penalties and reputational harm, any of which could have an adverse effect on its business and operations. Consequently, actions by the joint venture, joint venture partner 19or other third-party could expose Valvoline to claims for damages, financial penalties and reputational harm, any of which could have an adverse effect on its business and operations. Although joint ventures may generate positive cash flows, in some cases they may be unable or unwilling to make distributions to the joint venture partners. Although joint ventures may generate positive cash flow, in some cases they may be unable or unwilling to distribute that cash to the joint venture partners.

Risks related to operating Valvoline's business

Valvoline’s significant global operations subject it to risks, which could adversely affect its business, financial condition and results of operations.

Valvoline expects its non-U.S. sales to continue to grow as the Company continues to invest in international markets. Sales outside of the U.S. represented 26% of the Company's consolidated sales in fiscal 2021. The Company has multiple manufacturing locations outside of the United States, which includes its blending and packaging plant in China that began production in fiscal 2021. Accordingly, its business is subject to risks related to the differing legal, political, cultural, social and regulatory requirements and economic conditions of many jurisdictions.

The global nature of Valvoline’s business presents difficulties in hiring and maintaining a workforce in certain countries. Fluctuations in exchange rates could affect product demand and may adversely affect the cost of transacting in other countries. Fluctuations in exchange rates may affect product demand and may adversely affect the profitability in US dollars of products and services provided in other countries. In addition, other countries may impose additional withholding taxes or otherwise tax Valvoline’s income, or adopt other restrictions on trade or investment, including currency exchange controls. The imposition of new or additional tariffs or other significant changes in trade regulations are also risks that could impair Valvoline’s financial performance and increase operating costs which Valvoline may not be able to recapture. The imposition of new or additional tariffs or other significant changes in trade regulations are also risks that could impair Valvoline’s financial performance.

Certain legal and political risks are also inherent in the operation of a company with Valvoline’s global scope. For example, it may be more difficult for Valvoline to enforce its agreements or collect receivables through other legal systems. There is a risk that non-U.S. governments may nationalize private enterprises in certain countries where Valvoline operates. Social and cultural standards in certain countries may not support compliance with Valvoline’s corporate policies including those that require compliance with substantive laws and regulations. Also, changes in general economic and political conditions in countries where Valvoline operates are a risk to Valvoline’s financial performance and future growth. As Valvoline continues to operate its business globally, its success will depend, in part, on its ability to anticipate and effectively manage these and other related risks. There can be no assurance that the consequences of these and other factors relating to Valvoline’s global operations will not have an adverse effect on its business, financial condition or results of operations.

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Adverse developments in the global economy or in regional economies and potential disruptions of financial markets could negatively impact Valvoline’s customers and suppliers, and therefore have a negative impact on its results of operations.

A global or regional economic downturn may reduce customer demand or inhibit Valvoline’s ability to produce and sell products. Valvoline’s business and operating results are sensitive to global and regional economic downturns, credit market tightness, declining consumer and business confidence, fluctuating commodity prices, volatile exchange rates, changes in interest rates, sovereign debt defaults and other challenges, including those related to international sanctions and acts of aggression or threatened aggression that can affect the global economy. With 76% of Valvoline’s sales coming from North America in fiscal 2021, Valvoline is particularly sensitive to the risk of an economic slowdown or downturn in that region. In the event of adverse developments or stagnation in the economy or financial markets, Valvoline’s customers may experience deterioration of their businesses, reduced demand for their products, cash flow shortages and difficulty obtaining financing. As a result, existing or potential customers might delay or cancel plans to purchase products and may not be able to fulfill their obligations to Valvoline in a timely fashion. Further, suppliers may experience similar conditions, which could impact their ability to fulfill their obligations to Valvoline. A weakening or reversal of the global economy or a substantial part of it could negatively impact Valvoline’s business, results of operations, financial condition and ability to grow.

Pandemics, epidemics or disease outbreaks, such as the novel coronavirus, may disrupt Valvoline’s business and operations, which could materially affect Valvoline’s financial condition, results of operations and forward-looking expectations.

Disruptions caused by pandemics, epidemics or disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19, in the United States or globally, could materially affect Valvoline's results of operations, financial condition and forward-looking expectations. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Valvoline's business, particularly as it relates to congestion in the supply chain and related cost and sourcing challenges, as well as the disruption in the labor market. The extent to which the pandemic will continue to impact Valvoline's business results and operations remains uncertain considering the rapidly evolving environment, duration and severity of the spread of COVID-19, emerging variants, vaccine and booster effectiveness, public acceptance of safety protocols, and government measures, including vaccine mandates, implemented at the local and federal levels designed to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19, among others.

Valvoline has seen a marked improvement in miles driven and demand in the Company's key markets during fiscal 2021 compared to the prior year lows at the peak of COVID-19 restrictions. However, the spread of new or worsening COVID-19 variants could result in the resurgence of lockdowns or stay-at-home guidelines which would continue to place pressure on Valvoline’s business, results of operations, liquidity, financial condition, and forward-looking expectations, particularly if these impacts continue for an extended period of time. Valvoline has also experienced uneven recovery within its international markets in fiscal 2021 as COVID-19 outbreaks exhibit patterns of improvement and resurgence worldwide, particularly in southeast Asia. As this uneven recovery continues, and depending on the severity and duration of additional outbreaks, Valvoline may voluntarily elect or be required to temporarily close or reduce operations at its lubricant blending and packaging plants as well as its service center stores. Valvoline has taken a number of actions to reduce the risk and volatility associated with the US pension plans, however, changing market conditions or laws and regulations could require material increases in the expected cash contributions to these plans in future years.

Worsening conditions in the severity and spread of COVID-19, or other pandemics, epidemics, or disease outbreaks, could adversely affect Valvoline’s ability to implement its growth plans, including, without limitation, delay the construction or acquisition of new Retail Services service center stores, or negatively impact Valvoline’s ability to successfully execute plans to enter into new markets; reduce demand for Valvoline’s products and services; cause Valvoline to experience further inefficiencies in the supply chain, including but not limited to, the delivery of products and services to Valvoline’s customers, receipt of raw materials from suppliers or increased costs of raw materials; reduce sales or profitability; negatively impact Valvoline’s ability to maintain operations; or lead to significant disruption of global financial markets, which may reduce the Company’s ability to access capital and, in the future, negatively affect the Company’s liquidity.


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Valvoline uses information technology systems to conduct business, and a cyber security threat, privacy/data breach, or failure of a key information technology system could adversely affect Valvoline’s business and reputation.

Valvoline relies on its information technology systems, including systems which are managed or provided by third-party service providers, to conduct its business. Despite employee training and other measures to mitigate them, cyber-security threats to its information technology systems, and those of its third-party service providers, are increasing and becoming more advanced and breaches could occur as a result of denial-of-service attacks or other cyber-attacks, hacking, phishing, viruses, malicious software, ransomware, computer malware, social engineering, break-ins, security breaches or due to error or misconduct by its employees, contractors or third-party service providers. A breach of or failure of Valvoline’s information technology systems, including systems in which data is stored in or may be transferred across third-party platforms, could lead to the loss and destruction of trade secrets, confidential information, proprietary data, intellectual property, customer and supplier data, and employee personal information, and could disrupt business operations which could adversely affect Valvoline’s relationships with business partners and harm its brands, reputation and financial results. A breach of or failure of Valvoline’s information technology systems could lead to the loss and destruction of trade secrets, confidential information, proprietary data, intellectual property, customer and supplier data, and employee personal information, and could disrupt business operations which could adversely affect Valvoline’s relationships with business partners and harm its brands, reputation and financial results. Valvoline’s customer and vendor data may include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and payment account information, among other information. Valvoline’s customer data may include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and payment account information, among other information. Depending on the nature of the customer data that is compromised, Valvoline may also have obligations to notify users, law enforcement or payment companies about the incident and may need to provide some form of remedy, such as refunds for the individuals affected by the incident. Valvoline could also face fines and penalties should it fail to adequately notify affected parties pursuant to new and evolving privacy laws in various jurisdictions in which it does business, as outlined in greater detail in the "Regulatory, legal, and financial risks" section below. Valvoline could also face fines and penalties should it fail to adequately notify affected parties pursuant to new and evolving privacy laws in various jurisdictions in which it does business.

Business disruptions from natural, operational and other catastrophic risks could seriously harm Valvoline’s operations and financial performance. In addition, a catastrophic event at one of Valvoline’s facilities or involving its products or employees could lead to liabilities that could further impair its operations and financial performance.

Business disruptions, including those related to operating hazards inherent in the production of lubricants, natural disasters, severe weather conditions, climate change, supply or logistics disruptions, increasing costs for energy, temporary plant and/or power outages, information technology systems and network disruptions, cyber-security breaches, terrorist attacks, armed conflicts, war, pandemic diseases, fires, floods or other catastrophic events, could seriously harm Valvoline’s operations, as well as the operations of Valvoline’s customers and suppliers, and may adversely impact Valvoline’s financial performance. Although it is impossible to predict the occurrence or consequences of any such events, they could result in reduced demand for Valvoline’s products; make it difficult or impossible for Valvoline to manufacture its products, deliver products and services to its customers, or receive raw materials from suppliers; lead to increased costs of raw materials; or create delays and inefficiencies in the supply chain. In addition to leading to a serious disruption of Valvoline’s businesses, a catastrophic event at one of Valvoline’s facilities or involving its products or employees could lead to substantial legal liability to or claims by parties allegedly harmed by the event.

While Valvoline maintains business continuity plans that are intended to allow it to continue operations or mitigate the effects of events that could disrupt its business, Valvoline cannot provide assurances that its plans would fully protect it from all such events. In addition, insurance maintained by Valvoline to protect against property damage, loss of business and other related consequences resulting from catastrophic events is subject to significant retentions and coverage limitations, depending on the nature of the risk insured. This insurance may not be sufficient to cover all of Valvoline’s damages or damages to others in the event of a catastrophe. In addition, insurance related to these types of risks may not be available now or, if available, may not be available in the future at commercially reasonable rates.

Regulatory, legal, and financial risks

Data protection requirements could increase operating costs and requirements and a breach in information privacy or other related risks could negatively impact operations.

Valvoline is subject to federal, state, and non-U.S. laws, directives, and regulations relating to the collection, use, retention, disclosure, security and transfer of personal data relating to its customers and employees. These laws,
24


directives and regulations, and their interpretation and enforcement continue to evolve and may be inconsistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) applies to all of Valvoline’s activities conducted from an establishment in the European Union ("EU") and may also apply to related products and services that Valvoline offers to customers in the EU. In addition, the California Consumer Privacy Act ("CCPA") applies to Valvoline's activities conducted in the state of California. Complying with the GDPR, CCPA, and similar emerging and changing privacy and data protection requirements may cause Valvoline to incur substantial costs or disruption to is operations. Complying with the GDPR and similar emerging and changing privacy and data protection requirements may cause Valvoline to incur substantial costs.

Noncompliance with these legal obligations relating to privacy and data protection could damage Valvoline's reputation and affect its ability to retain and attract customers. Additionally, any failure or perceived failure by Valvoline or any third parties with which it does business, to comply with these privacy and data protection laws, rules and regulations, or with respect to similar obligations to which Valvoline may be or become subject, may result in actions against Valvoline by governmental entities, private claims and litigation, fines, penalties or other liabilities. Any failure or perceived failure by Valvoline or any third parties with which it does business to comply with these laws, rules and regulations, or with other obligations to which Valvoline may be or become subject, may result in actions against Valvoline by governmental entities, private claims and litigation, fines, penalties or other liabilities. Any such action would be expensive to defend, damage Valvoline’s reputation and adversely affect business, operating results, financial position and cash flows.

The impact of changing laws or regulations or the manner of interpretation or enforcement of existing laws or regulations could adversely impact Valvoline’s financial performance and restrict its ability to operate its business or execute its strategies.

New laws or regulations, or changes in existing laws or regulations or the manner of their interpretation or enforcement, could increase Valvoline’s cost of doing business and restrict its ability to operate its business or execute its strategies. This risk includes, among other things, compliance with a myriad of U.S. and non-U.S. tax laws and regulations; anti-competition laws and regulations; product compliance regulations, including the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (“REACH”) regulation; anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws, including FCPA and the U.K. Bribery Act; anti-money-laundering laws; economic sanctions and export control laws and regulations, including those administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”); customs laws; and other laws governing Valvoline’s operations.

Although Valvoline has implemented policies and procedures to ensure compliance with these laws and regulations, it cannot be sure that its policies and procedures are sufficient or that directors, officers, employees, representatives, distributors, consultants and agents have not engaged and will not engage in conduct for which Valvoline may be held responsible, nor can Valvoline be sure that its business partners have not engaged and will not engage in conduct that could materially affect their ability to perform their contractual obligations to Valvoline or even result in its being held liable for such conduct. Violations of the these laws or regulations may result in severe criminal or civil sanctions or penalties, or significant changes in existing laws and regulations may subject Valvoline to other liabilities, which could have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations.

Valvoline’s substantial indebtedness may adversely affect its business, results of operations and financial condition.

Valvoline has substantial indebtedness and financial obligations. As of September 30, 2021, Valvoline had outstanding indebtedness of $1.7 billion, with a borrowing capacity remaining under its existing credit facilities of $586 million. As of September 30, 2020, Valvoline had outstanding indebtedness of approximately $2.0 billion, with a borrowing capacity remaining under its existing credit facilities of $548 million. Valvoline may incur substantial additional debt from time to time to finance working capital, capital expenditures, investments or acquisitions, or for other general corporate purposes.

Valvoline's substantial indebtedness could adversely affect its business, results of operations and financial condition by, among other things: requiring Valvoline to dedicate a substantial portion of its cash flows to pay principal and interest on its debt, which would reduce the availability of its cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, execution of its growth strategy and other general corporate purposes; limiting Valvoline’s ability to borrow additional amounts to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, debt service requirements, execution of its growth strategy and other general corporate purposes; making Valvoline more vulnerable to adverse changes in general economic, industry and regulatory conditions and in its business by limiting its flexibility in planning for or reacting to changing conditions; placing Valvoline at a competitive disadvantage compared with its competitors that have less debt and lower debt service requirements; making Valvoline more vulnerable to increases in interest rates since some of its indebtedness is subject to variable rates of interest; and making it more difficult for Valvoline to satisfy its financial obligations.
25



In addition, Valvoline may not be able to generate sufficient cash flows to repay its indebtedness when it becomes due and to meet its other cash needs. If Valvoline is not able to pay its debts as they become due, it could be in default under the terms of its indebtedness. Valvoline might also be required to pursue one or more alternative strategies to repay indebtedness, such as selling assets, refinancing or restructuring its indebtedness or selling additional debt or equity securities. Valvoline may not be able to refinance its debt or sell additional debt or equity securities or its assets on favorable terms, if at all, and if it must sell its assets, it may negatively affect Valvoline’s ability to generate revenues.

Valvoline’s pension and other postretirement benefit plan obligations are currently underfunded, and Valvoline may have to make significant cash payments to some or all of these plans, which would reduce the cash available for its business.

In connection with Valvoline’s separation from Ashland, Valvoline assumed certain of Ashland’s historical pension and other postretirement benefit plans and related liabilities. The most significant of these plans, the U.S. qualified pension plans, are estimated to be underfunded by $37 million as of September 30, 2021. The funded status of Valvoline's pension plans is dependent upon many factors, including returns on invested assets, the level of certain market interest rates and the discount rate used to determine pension obligations. Valvoline has taken a number of actions to reduce the risk and volatility associated with the U.S. pension plans, however, changing market conditions or laws and regulations could require material increases in the expected cash contributions to these plans in future years. Specifically, unfavorable returns on plan assets or unfavorable changes in applicable laws or regulations could materially change the timing and amount of required plan funding. In addition, a decrease in the discount rate used to determine pension obligations could result in an increase in the valuation of pension obligations, which could affect the reported funded status of Valvoline’s U.S. pension plans and future contributions. Similarly, an increase in discount rates could increase the periodic pension cost in subsequent fiscal years. If any of these events occur, Valvoline may have to make cash payments to its U.S. pension plans, which would reduce the cash available for its business. Finally, Valvoline’s policy to recognize changes in the fair value of the pension assets and liabilities annually and as otherwise required through mark to market accounting could result in volatility in Valvoline’s earnings, which could be material.

Valvoline may fail to adequately protect its intellectual property rights or may be accused of infringing the intellectual property rights of third parties.

Valvoline relies heavily upon its trademarks, domain names and logos, as well as upon trade secrets, to market its brands and to build and maintain brand loyalty and recognition. Valvoline also relies on a combination of laws and contractual restrictions with employees, customers, suppliers, affiliates and others, to establish and protect its various intellectual property rights. For example, Valvoline has generally registered and continues to register and renew, or secure by contract where appropriate, trademarks and service marks as they are developed and used, and reserve, register and renew domain names as appropriate. Effective trademark protection may not be available or may not be sought in every country in which Valvoline’s products are made available and contractual disputes may affect the use of marks governed by private contract. Similarly, not every variation of a domain name may be available to or be registered by Valvoline, even if available.

Valvoline generally seeks to apply for patents or for other similar statutory protections as and if it deems appropriate, based on then-current facts and circumstances, and will continue to do so in the future. No assurances can be given that any patent application Valvoline has filed or will file will result in a patent being issued, or that any existing or future patents will afford adequate or meaningful protection against competitors or against similar technologies. In addition, no assurances can be given that third parties will not create new products or methods that achieve similar results without infringing upon patents Valvoline owns. Furthermore, the terms of patents are finite and the patents that Valvoline owns will eventually expire after the statutory term of patent protection ends in the jurisdiction where such patents are issued.

Despite these measures, Valvoline’s intellectual property rights may still not be protected in a meaningful manner, challenges to contractual rights could arise and third parties could copy or otherwise obtain and use Valvoline’s intellectual property without authorization, including its trade secrets and other confidential intellectual property. The occurrence of any of these events could result in the erosion of Valvoline’s brands and limit its ability to market its brands using its various trademarks, cause Valvoline to lose such trade secrets, as well as impede its ability to
26


effectively compete against competitors with similar products and services, any of which could adversely affect its business, financial condition and results of operations.

From time to time, Valvoline has been subject to legal proceedings and claims, including claims of alleged infringement of trademarks, copyrights, patents and other intellectual property rights held by third parties. In the future, third parties may sue Valvoline for alleged infringement of their proprietary or intellectual property rights. Valvoline may not be aware of whether its products do or will infringe existing or future patents or other intellectual property rights of others. In addition, litigation may be necessary to enforce Valvoline’s intellectual property rights, protect its trade secrets or determine the validity and scope of proprietary rights claimed by others. Any litigation or other intellectual property proceedings of this nature, regardless of outcome or merit, could result in substantial costs and diversion of management and technical resources, or loss of rights in Valvoline’s intellectual property, any of which could adversely affect Valvoline’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

Valvoline has incurred, and will continue to incur, costs as a result of EHS and hazardous substances liabilities and related compliance requirements. These costs could adversely impact Valvoline’s cash flow, its results of operations or financial condition.

Valvoline is subject to extensive federal, state, local and non-U.S. laws, regulations, rules and ordinances relating to pollution, protection of the environment and human health and safety, as well as the generation, storage, handling, treatment, disposal and remediation of hazardous substances and waste materials. Valvoline has incurred, and will continue to incur, costs and capital expenditures to comply with these laws and regulations.

EHS regulations change frequently, and such regulations and their enforcement have tended to become more stringent over time. Accordingly, changes in EHS laws and regulations and the enforcement of such laws and regulations could interrupt Valvoline’s operations, require modifications to its facilities or cause it to incur significant liabilities, costs or losses that could adversely affect its profitability. Actual or alleged violations of EHS laws and regulations could result in restrictions or prohibitions on plant operations as well as substantial damages, penalties, fines, civil or criminal sanctions and remediation costs.

Valvoline’s business involves the production, storage and transportation of hazardous substances. Under some environmental laws, Valvoline may be strictly liable and/or jointly and severally liable for environmental damages caused by releases of hazardous substances and waste materials into the environment. For instance, under relevant laws and regulations Valvoline may be deemed liable for soil and/or groundwater contamination at sites it currently owns and/or operates even though the contamination was caused by a third party such as a former owner or operator, and at sites it formerly owned and operated if the release of hazardous substances or waste materials was caused by it or by a third party during the period it owned and/or operated the site. Valvoline also may be deemed liable for soil and/or groundwater contamination at sites to which it sent hazardous wastes for treatment or disposal, notwithstanding that the original treatment or disposal activity accorded with all applicable regulatory requirements.

The Company’s Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation (the “Articles”) designate the Fayette County Circuit Court of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as the sole and exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between the Company and its shareholders, which may limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a favorable judicial forum for disputes with the Company and its directors, officers or employees.

The Company’s Articles specify that the Fayette County Circuit Court of the Commonwealth of Kentucky shall be the sole and exclusive forum for any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company, any action asserting a breach of a fiduciary duty, any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to the Kentucky Business Corporation Act, or any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This exclusive forum provision does not apply to suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or by the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

The Company believes that the exclusive forum provision in the Articles benefits the Company by providing increased consistency in the application of Kentucky law for the specified types of actions and may benefit the Company by preventing it from having to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions (and incur additional expenses) and be subject to potential inconsistent or contrary rulings by different courts, among other considerations. The exclusive forum provision in the Articles, however, may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against Valvoline's
27


directors, officers or employees as it could increase a shareholder’s cost to bring a claim or limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for such claims. In connection with any applicable action brought against the Company, it is possible that a court could find the forum selection provisions contained in the Articles to be inapplicable or unenforceable in such action. If a court were to render such a finding, the Company may incur additional costs to resolve the action in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Risks related to Valvoline’s separation from Ashland

The Distribution could result in significant tax liability to Ashland, and in certain circumstances, Valvoline could be required to indemnify Ashland for material taxes pursuant to indemnification obligations.

Ashland obtained a written opinion of counsel to the effect that the Distribution should qualify for non-recognition of gain and loss under Section 355 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). The opinion of counsel does not address any U.S. state, local or non-U.S. tax consequences of the Distribution. The opinion assumes that the Distribution is completed according to the terms of the agreement entered into between Ashland and Valvoline (the “Separation Agreement”) and relies on the facts as described in the Separation Agreement, the Tax Matters Agreement, other ancillary agreements, the information statement distributed to Ashland’s shareholders in connection with the Distribution and a number of other documents. The opinion assumes that the Distribution is completed according to the terms of the Separation Agreement and relies on the facts as described in the Separation Agreement, the Tax Matters Agreement, other ancillary agreements, the information statement distributed to Ashland’s shareholders in connection with the Distribution and a number of other documents. In addition, the opinion is based on certain representations as to factual matters from, and certain covenants by, Ashland and Valvoline. The opinion cannot be relied on if any of the assumptions, representations or covenants is incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate or is violated in any material respect.

The opinion of counsel is not binding on the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) or the courts, and thus there can be no assurance that the IRS or a court will not take a contrary position. Ashland has not requested, and to the best of Valvoline's knowledge does not intend to request, a ruling from the IRS regarding the U.S. federal income tax consequences of the Distribution.

If the Distribution were determined not to qualify for non-recognition of gain and loss, then Ashland would recognize a gain as if it had sold its Valvoline common stock in a taxable transaction in an amount up to the fair market value of the common stock it distributed in the Distribution. In addition, certain reorganization transactions undertaken in connection with the separation and the Distribution could be determined to be taxable, which could result in additional taxable gain. Under certain circumstances set forth in the Tax Matters Agreement, Valvoline could have joint and several liability for gain recognition relating to the separation from Ashland, and/or a substantial indemnification obligation to Ashland with respect to the tax associated with some or all of such gain, which could have a material adverse impact on Valvoline's financial condition. Under certain circumstances set forth in the Tax Matters Agreement, Valvoline could have a substantial indemnification obligation to Ashland with respect to the tax associated with some or all of such gain, which could have a material adverse impact on Valvoline's financial condition.

Valvoline’s inability to resolve favorably any disputes that arise between Valvoline and Ashland with respect to their past relationship may adversely affect its operating results.

Valvoline may not be able to resolve disputes with Ashland, and even if it does, the resolution may not be favorable and could adversely affect Valvoline’s operating results. Valvoline may not be able to resolve disputes with Ashland, and even if it does, the resolution may not be favorable and could adversely affect Valvoline’s operating results. Disputes between Ashland and Valvoline could relate to a number of areas relating to their past relationship, including labor; tax; employee benefits, including pension liabilities; indemnification; services provided to one another; and other matters arising from Valvoline’s separation from Ashland.Disputes may arise between Ashland and Valvoline in a number of areas relating to their past relationship, including labor; tax; employee benefits, including pension liabilities; indemnification; services provided to one another; and other matters arising from Valvoline’s separation from Ashland.

Ashland has agreed to indemnify Valvoline for certain liabilities. However, there can be no assurance that the indemnity will be sufficient to insure Valvoline against the full amount of such liabilities, or that Ashland’s ability to satisfy its indemnification obligation will not be impaired in the future.

Pursuant to the terms of the Separation Agreement and certain other agreements with Ashland, Ashland agreed to indemnify Valvoline for certain liabilities.Pursuant to the terms of the Separation Agreement entered into between Ashland and Valvoline (the “Separation Agreement”) and certain other agreements with Ashland, Ashland agreed to indemnify Valvoline for certain liabilities. However, third parties could also seek to hold Valvoline responsible for any of the liabilities that Ashland agreed to retain, and there can be no assurance that the indemnity from Ashland will be sufficient to protect Valvoline against the full amount of such liabilities, or that Ashland will be able to fully satisfy its indemnification obligations in the future. Even if Valvoline ultimately succeeded in recovering from Ashland any
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amounts for which Valvoline is held liable, Valvoline may be temporarily required to bear these losses. Each of these risks could negatively affect Valvoline’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

ITEM 1B.26ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

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