04 June 2001 00:31 [Source: ICIS news]
AtoFina targets US market
A little more than a year after its creation, AtoFina Petrochemicals is targeting the US as a main priority for its petrochemicals business. A significant portion of the company's efforts will come with the start-up of the new $1 billion naphtha steam cracker that BASF and AtoFina are building in Port Arthur, Tex.
President favours China trade relations
Despite the strain in US-China relations, President George W Bush called on Congress last week to extend normal trade relations with the Beijing government for another year.
Ferro's Ortino outlines growth strategies
Ferro continues to forge ahead with an aggressive program to strengthen its businesses and financial performance. Under the leadership of Hector Ortino, Ferro is striving to achieve two key fiscal goals: to generate annual revenue growth of 6-8% and to raise earnings/share by 13%. In an exclusive interview with CMR, Ortino says such improvements will be driven by portfolio management, geographic expansions and acquisitions.
BP Amoco in jv with Shanghai Petchem
BP Amoco expects to set up a $2.7bn petrochemicals joint venture with Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company of China. BP will hold a 50% stake in the project. Sinopec will own 30% and Shanghai Petrochemical will have the remaining 20%. A petrochemicals complex under the venture is expected to start up by 2005. The petrochemicals complex will include a 900 000-tonne/year ethylene cracker. The companies are awaiting government approval of a feasibility study on the project. Sources say the joint venture seems likely to win official approval since it was granted a favourable rating from engineering experts, who were part of a government think-tank. A Shanghai Petrochemical official adds that if the venture can be set up in July, ground will be broken at the complex by the end of 2001 or early 2002.
Former TPI head battles restructure
The court-ordered restructuring of Thai Petrochemical Industry (TPI) that began in December 2000 has run into snags involving public death threats, embezzlement charges and possible prison time for the foreign team that was awarded control of the company, as TPI's founder, Prachai Leophairatana, has refused to go quietly. At stake, say some industry observers, is the fate of Thailand's ability to successfully manage its debts and, eventually, emerge from the devastating 1997 devaluation of the baht that crippled both TPI and numerous other companies.
Wall Street slashes chem profit estimates
The much-anticipated rebound proves elusive. For some diversified chemical companies, the second quarter could be worse than the first quarter. Although investors were eagerly anticipating signs of a recovery in chemical demand from disastrous first quarter levels, continuing US economic weakness spreading to Europe, along with the euro approaching its lows against the dollar, has Wall Street ratcheting down second quarter earnings estimates for a number of diversified chemical companies. For some, the second quarter could actually be worse than the first.
Chem industry hails FERC ruling
A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling in a Texas case affecting chemical plants and other facilities that use cogeneration technology to produce energy is a "major victory" for the industry, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said.
Fisher confirmed for EPA number two spot
Following her confirmation by the US Senate, former Monsanto Company executive Linda Fisher began work last week as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency's second highest position. Fisher will be the top managerial and policy assistant to EPA administrator Christie Todd Whitman. She has been extensively involved in environmental issues throughout her career, including a decade of experience at EPA during the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
Leahy seeks drug monopoly compromise
The incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee intends to pursue legislation to prevent brand-name drug companies from delaying generic competition. But Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat-Vermont), in line to replace current chairman Orrin Hatch (Republican-Utah) early this month after Democrats take control of the Senate, also pledges to work with Republican members of the judiciary panel on a bipartisan compromise.
Consumer group unveils new name
As part of its new identity, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) held its mid-year meeting and trade show with a new name, Tradeworx, at the Hyatt Regency 21-24 May in Chicago, Illinois. The CSPA was previously called the Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association (CSMA) but changed its name in December 2000. The organisation's newest incarnation is an effort to adapt to recent industry trends, such as globalisation, the impact of the Internet and the recent rash of mergers and acquisitions.
Trade promotion authority moves forward
The nation's largest organisation of manufacturers says the release of a set of trade principles by a group of centrist Democrats signals "the beginning of the dialogue we have been waiting for." The so-called New Democrat Coalition unveiled a set of broad principles last week that they hope will lay the foundation for legislation granting the Bush administration the authority to negotiate new trade agreements.
In the News
ACC argues against more endocrine testing
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) does not believe that a scientific panel's findings about the low-dose effects of certain hormone-like chemicals warrants a change in pre-market test procedures. A National Toxicology Program report recommends that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should consider rewriting the guidelines industry must follow in conducting regulatory tests of their products prior to agency approval.
MOL bids for control of Hungary's TVK
MOL has made a bid for control of TVK, the Hungarian ethylene and polyolefins producer, to consolidate its position in the country's petrochemicals sector. The Hungarian oil and gas company already owns 32.5% of TVK. Option agreements on another 17.6% of TVK's shares give it 50.1% control. Rival shareholders linked to Gazprom, the Russian gas company, own most of the other shares.
N Hampshire eyes oxy-free gasoline
New Hampshire officials plan to replace federally mandated reformulated gasoline (RFG) containing oxygenates with the state's own blend of cleaner-burning motor fuel. The state intends to develop "Oxy-Free RFG," a fuel which, unlike the existing RFG, would be blended without methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), which has been linked to groundwater contamination.
Bayer, DuPont finalise European PBT jv
Bayer and DuPont have finalised an agreement on a manufacturing joint venture involving the building of an 80 000 tonne/year plant for polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) in Europe. The companies signed a letter of intent on the 50:50 joint venture last October, soon after Bayer pulled out of a possible project with Ticona and DSM for a 40 000-60 000 tonne/year PBT unit in Europe.
ABB garners IT deal from Dow Chem
Swiss electrical engineering and technology group ABB has signed a ten-year agreement with Dow Chemical for the supply of process automation technology. ABB will supply both software and hardware to enable Dow's more than 170 plants to link their operations.
Cerestar's profitability improves
Cerestar, whose shares are being listed on the Paris stock market at the end of this month, is expecting to start making a profit again this year. The company, which is part of the Montedison group and is Europe's market leader in starch and starch derivatives, has also denied continued speculation that it plans to sell its operation in North America, where it has only a 5% market share.
MS Carbamate urea project fights lawsuits
The $4.5bn, 10m tonne/year urea project planned by MS Carbamate in Pearl River County, Mississippi - near Poplarville - is reportedly still on despite a proliferation of civil lawsuits surrounding the venture.
Genzyme hikes production capacity
Genzyme has unveiled plans to substantially increase manufacturing capacity to support both its existing product line and expected growth as its pipeline comes to fruition. Two new manufacturing facilities in the US and Ireland are slated to come on line in the 2003 to 2004 timeframe.
Sequenom, Gemini Genomics to merge
Sequenom and Gemini Genomics have agreed to merge in a $238m stock-for-stock transaction. The merger expands Sequenom's disease gene association and genetic marker validation capabilities. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter and follows an existing collaboration between the companies.
Kaufman buys Canadian lubricants
Kaufman Holdings has bought the specialty industrial lubricants business of AtoFina Canada, a subsidiary of AtoFina Chemicals. The acquired specialty industrial lubricants business will operate as Anderol Canada under Kaufman Holdings' Anderol Group.
Ineos ships first supplies of HFA-227ea
Ineos plans to become a larger force in supplying CFC-free fluorochemical medical propellants after starting production of HFA-227ea (heptafluoropropane) to cGMP standards. The company, which last year took over ICI's fluorochemicals business, has shipped its first bulk supplies of 227ea propellant to Europe from a joint venture plant with Great Lakes in El Dorado, Arkansas.
EPA budget shift plan worries Dems
House Democrats are expressing concern over the Bush administration's plan to shift part of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) enforcement budget to a state grants program. "I am really concerned that the proposal will result in a decrease in enforcement activity," Representative Alan Mollohan (Democrat-West Virginia) said during a hearing on EPA's $7.3bn budget request for fiscal 2002.
Little progress seen for Rx drug benefit plan
Representative Richard Burr (Republican-North Carolina) urged colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee last week to end the partisan bickering over adding a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program but both sides indicated they are far from an agreement. Democrats contend that drug coverage should be provided to all Medicare beneficiaries and oppose the Bush administration's plan to provide a subsidy only for low-income seniors.
Lilly's Prozac patent found invalid
The US Court of Appeals, reaffirming an earlier decision, has ruled that Eli Lilly's patent covering Prozac through 2003 is invalid for double patenting. As a result, generic versions of the drug could be available as early as August, when Lilly's paediatric exclusivity expires.
Energy costs set to ease gradually?
The US chemical industry should face continued pressure because of the economic slowdown in the US and the ability of large purchasers, such as Wal-Mart and General Motors, to keep plastics processors and specialty chemical producers from passing on feedstock increases. But the economic downturn does not appear to be as severe as analysts initially projected, and energy costs are likely to ease gradually. Those are the most recent conclusions by Fred Peterson, president of Probe Economics in Millwood, New York.
Peru calls off phosphate auction
Poor timing and uncertainties in the political arena have scuttled the auction of Peru's Bayovar phosphate deposit. The deposit is said to have reserves of up to 800m tonne. Peru called off the auction after no bidders tended an offer.
PDVSA picks Plaza Group to market Nonene
Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has selected The Plaza Group as the exclusive marketer of its nonene. The $20m multi-year contract "represents the extension of our unique outsourced business model for the petrochemical industry beyond national boundaries," notes Randy Velarde, president of The Plaza Group.
Vantico to buy Degussa adhesives, tooling
Swiss specialty chemical manufacturer Vantico has signed a contract to purchase the Agomet and Atlas adhesive and tooling business of Darmstadt, Germany-based Rohm GmbH. The businesses are part of the specialty acrylics business operations of Rohm, which is part of Degussa. Terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed. The deal is subject to European Commission (EC) regulatory approval.
Velsicol buys CasChem's plasticizer business
Velsicol Chemical of Rosemont, Illinois has acquired the polymeric plasticizer business of CasChem in Bayonne, New Jersey. CasChem is a subsidiary of Cambrex. Production of the plasticizers will be moved to Velsicol's Chestertown, Maryland manufacturing facility.
Roche to cut 8% of workforce
Roche Holding will cut 3000 jobs, or about 8% of its workforce, to improve the performance of its sagging pharma division. Manufacturing and R&D positions will be hardest hit as the company attempts to curb costs by optimising activities.
House exempts small firms from Superfund
Legislation unanimously passed by the US House of Representatives that would exempt small businesses from Superfund liability faces an uncertain future in the Senate, a key committee chairman said last week.
Nitrogen-based fertilisers face slower growth
Benzene prices plunge
Rauma Forest sees strength in the European CTO market
Cumene and derivatives set to grow
Analgesics buoyed by new applications
Ag biotech still promises long-term growth
Ethyleneamines face upward pricing pressure
Solvay ups sodium bicarbonate capacity
Crealogy launches a new technology
Degussa to sell Degussa Dental
Ivax shores up two paclitaxel makers
Albany Molecular ponders Allegra
Amvac completes DuPont purchase
Chiral technologies launches VeloCT-CSP
DuPont boosts Delrin
Solutia acquires Lumitol
TotalFInaElf sells Soplaril
Chemcentral to acquire Southwest Solvents
Dow forms fine chem business unit
Hercules completes peroxy chem sale
Beaufour Ipsen, PCAS negotiate on plant
Pacer Technology to sell California Chem line
Transgenomic completes Annovis acquisition
Dermal absorption rate due soon
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