15 July 2002 00:00 [Source: ACN]
28 June. Sumitomo Chemical and Mitsui Chemicals have forecast
that their combined recurring income will record a cumulative
average growth rate (CAGR) of 19% until 2005-06 after their merger
has been completed.
The Japanese petrochemical majors, which will merge all their operations by 31 March 2004, estimate combined recurring income will increase to Yen250bn (US$2.09bn) from the Yen104bn total that the two companies posted in the fiscal year to 31 March 2002.
Total sales by fiscal 2006 are projected to increase by a CAGR of 9% to reach Yen3000bn from Yen1900bn.
28 June. India's Antidumping Authority (ADA) has launched a
dumping investigation into caustic soda imports from China and
The ADA has already sent questionnaires to Chinese and South Korean exporters of caustic soda. The companies have a 40-day deadline - which expires early next month - to respond.
The investigation covers imports of caustic soda during the financial year ended 31 March 2002.
The probe was launched in response to a petition filed by the Alkali Manufacturers Association of India. The petition was backed by 12 producers who accounted for 55% of domestic caustic soda production in 2001-02.
28 June. Japanese ethylene production fell by 8.7% to 555 022
tonne in May 2002 compared with the same month in 2001, with
shipments falling by just over 20%, according to figures released
by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti). But the
production figure for May was 3% higher than April 2002.
The latest figures bring closer to reality Meti's prediction that Japan's C2 output will fall below 7m tonne in 2002 for the first time in six years.
C2 shipments fell to 403 780 tonne - marginally down on April's figure of 406 653 tonne, while inventories were down by 2.1% year-on-year to 60 474 tonne.
Propylene production fell by 6.8% in May to 405 332 tonne compared to the same month last year, although that figure was up by 1% on April's 401 439 tonne.
Propylene shipments were down 24.3% year-on-year to 305 976 tonne, although they were up by 6.2% on April's 288 068 tonne.
Inventories were up by 21.6% year-on-year to 41 981 tonne. However, May's inventories were 13.1% down on April's 48 323 tonne.
|An R&D centre is in the pipeline
28 June. Nova Chemicals will restructure its styrenics division
with expansion of expandable PS (EPS)in the US and closure of solid
PS reactors in the US and Europe.
Nova will double capacity for its Arcel EPS at Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, US. Nova will start work on the Arcel expansion in Q3 this year.
It will also debottleneck capacity for Dylark EPS at Beaver Valley in Q4 2002 to boost output by slightly more than 9000 tonne/year.
Nova will shut down from 1 September its SPS suspension reactors at Breda, The Netherlands, and at Chesapeake, Virginia, US. This will cut 37 jobs and remove 79 000 tonne/year of capacity from oversupplied SPS markets.
Nova plans to focus on lowering emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It has a patented VOC-free technology, and has already launched its Ultra-Low Pentane EPS grades.
28 June. GTL Resources expects to secure financing for its 1.05m
tonne/year methanol project in Dampier, Western Australia, in
Lead arrangers and underwriters National Australia Bank, Bank of Scotland and WestLB are developing a credit agreement and security document for a loan covering about 70% of the estimated US$400m project, which is due onstream at end-2004.
GTL is in advanced negotiations to secure mezzanine financing, which is likely to provide 10% of the funds needed to complete the project, from an insurance company. The remaining 20% of the project's cost will come from equity.
28 June. Huntsman Tioxide has completed the purchase of AECI's
40% stake in their South African titanium dioxide (TiO2) joint
venture Huntsman Tioxide South Africa (HTSA) for Rand84.2m
HTSA produces approximately 45 000 tonne/year of TiO2 at Umbogintwini in KwaZulu-Natal.
28 June. EniChem is considering the permanent closure of its 130
000 tonne/year caprolactam plant in Porto Marghera, Italy.
The plant, which is almost back to full production after an approximately month-long maintenance turnaround, has been up for sale for over a year.
A senior source at EniChem said closure of the plant was one of three options.The other two are a straight sale and an agreement - possibly a joint venture - with another caprolactam player.
Although EniChem remains keen to find a buyer, its failure to conclude a deal after more than a year makes closure seem increasingly likely.
1 July. Royal/Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Russia's Gazprom have
signed an MoU for each of the companies to take a 15% stake in
China's US$14bn West-East Pipeline project.
PetroChina, with a 50% stake, will lead the project for construction of a 4200 km pipeline to transport gas from Xinjiang's Tarim Basin in western China to Shanghai in the east. Most of the gas will be used for power generation while some will be used at petrochemical plants.
1 July. India is considering levying safeguard duty on all
epichlorohydrin (ECH) imports.
The director-general for safeguards has recommended the levy of safeguard duty for a period of three years - 22% in the first year, 15% in the second year and 9% in the third year - in addition to basic customs duty of 25%.
The duty would benefit Tamilnadu Petroproducts, the only ECH producer in India.
1 July. Tuntex Petrochemical aims to launch an initial public
offering (IPO) on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in H1 2003.
A company source said Taiwan Securities House had been selected as the underwriter for the proposed IPO.
The company had earlier considered an IPO in 2001 but was forced to postpone the plan when a recession hit the Taiwanese economy.
1 July. Tuntex Petrochemical is considering acquiring the
polyester and fibres assets of Tuntex Distinct Corp (TDC), one of
its major customers and a company in which it already owns a 20%
A company spokesman said the move is part of Tuntex Petrochemical's strategy to diversify its business.
He added that Tuntex Distinct has the best potential as a takeover target since 50% of its feedstock comes from Tuntex Petrochemical. Tuntex Petrochemical hopes to use the NT$1.3bn (US$38.8m) it is owed by Tuntex Distinct to offset the purchase.
1 July. Sumitomo Chemical plans to acquire an undisclosed
agrochemical producer in the US by 2003-04 to further strengthen
its crop protection business.
Sumitomo has been steadily increasing its exposure to the non-farming and farming agrochemicals sector through mergers and acquisitions.
Recently, the Japanese company confirmed its interest in Bayer's insecticides businesses, which the German pharmaceuticals and chemicals giant is looking to divest.
|Sumitomo looking to expand at its
home base in Chiba, Japan
1 July. India's phenol industry is set to win the rare
distinction of being given the double protection of safeguard duty
and antidumping duty (ADD) on imports.
The Indian Finance Ministry is currently considering levying provisional ADD on phenol imports from Singapore, South Africa and the European Union. The antidumping authority has recommended provisional duties ranging from US$24.76/tonne to US$222.74/tonne.
Imports from all countries other than developing nations at present attract a safeguard duty of 10%. This is likely to be reduced to 7% up to 29 June 2003.
2 July. Orica will start up its new Aus$50m (US$28.1m)
chloralkali plant in Sydney, Australia, within the next couple of
months. The 75 000 tonne/year plant will replace an old plant at
the same site.
The startup of the new plant, which was planned for Q2, has been delayed to allow the company's chloralkali plant at Laverton, Melbourne, Australia, which was commissioned in mid-April, to get up to full capacity.
The Melbourne plant is the only one of the new plants which will produce liquid chlorine. Until it reaches full capacity, Orica will have to honour a supply contract to water authorities in New South Wales by keeping its old Sydney plant running.
2 July. The European Commission (EC)has fined Degussa Euro118m
(US$116.5) for its part in fixing the price of amino acid
methionine. The EC also fined Nippon Soda Euro9m for the same
Aventis, which had also admitted to participating in the cartel, was let off without a fine because it reported the conspiracy and provided decisive evidence on its operation.
2 July. PropanChem, the joint venture between BASF and Algerian
oil and gas company Sonatrach, said the startup of its propane
dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at Tarragona, Spain, has been delayed
by at least a month due to technical issues.
Trial production is expected to begin at the end of this month, with commercial production likely in late September. The plant was previously due to start commercial production in August.
3 July. Yaraco, the BP-Sinopec joint venture, has commissioned
its 80 000 tonne/year ethyl and butyl acetate plant in Chongqing,
China. Acetic acid feedstock will come from Yaraco's 200 000
tonne/year plant, which will be debottlenecked to 350 000
tonne/year by 2004.
Ethanol will be sourced from Chinese domestic suppliers, while butanol will be imported.
3 July. BASF may relocate its proposed 50 000 tonne/year formic
acid project from Kuantan, Malaysia, to Nanjing, China, said a
source close to the company.
BASF decided last year to postpone its formic acid joint-venture project in Kuantan and instead increase the capacity of its 50 000 tonne/year formic acid project in Nanjing by 30 000 tonne/year.
But the company may now relocate the project as there has been a slow down in demand in Malaysia.
3 July. Idemitsu Petrochemical will boost the capacity of its
naphtha cracker at Tokuyama in southern Japan to 623 000 tonne/year
from 450 000 tonne/year in Q4 2002.
The debottlenecking is due to take place during a scheduled maintenance shutdown of the cracker in September and October.
Idemitsu had originally announced it would expand the cracker in late 2000, but delayed the expansion because of poor market conditions.
3 July. Mitsubishi Chemical, Asahi Kasei and Idemitsu
Petrochemical signed an agreement to integrate their respective PS
operations into a joint venture which will be formalised by
Asahi will take 45% stake in the new company, which has yet to be named, while Mitsubishi and Idemitsu will each take a 27.5% stake.
The joint venture hopes to achieve sales of Yen50bn (US$415m) in its first year of operations. The new company will have a combined PS capacity of 530 000 tonne/year.
Mitsubishi and Asahi will transfer the assets of their joint venture A&M Styrene to the new company. A&M Styrene has a total PS capacity of 400 000 tonne/year.
3 July. Degussa said it will appeal againstthe Euro118m
(US$116.5m) fine imposed by the European Commission (EC) on 2 July
for fixing the price of the animal feed additive methionine.
Degussa described the fine as 'excessive and unacceptable' and said it would be lodging an appeal before the European Court of Justice's Court of First Instance.
4 July. Zimmer has been awarded a contractto build a
bottle-grade PET plant for Thai PET Resin in Mab Ta Phut, Thailand.
The plant, which will have a capacity of 300 tonne/day (about 99
000 tonne/year), is due onstream in January 2004.
Thai PET Resin is a 70:30 joint venture between Japan's Mitsui Chemicals and Siam Mitsui PTA.
4 July. Tonen General expects to make an operating loss in the
first half of its financial year to 30 June 2002 instead of the
operating profit it forecast earlier, due to lower-than-expected
sales and margins.
The company expects an operating loss of Yen10bn (US$83m), down from the Yen22.5bn operating profit forecast in January this year.
4 July. Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) is likely to complete a 180
000 tonne/year debottlenecking of its caustic soda plant in
Mailiao, Taiwan, by end-2002.
The debottlenecking, which will be carried out on all the three lines at the plant, will raise FPC's total capacity at Mailiao to 1.04m tonne/year. The current capacity of each of the three lines is approximately 290 000 tonne/year.
4 July. Effective Planners Ltd (EPL), the embattled
administrator of Thai Petrochemical Industry's (TPI) restructuring
plan, has been forced to delay the sale of the latter's power plant
following a demonstration by 2000 TPI employees.
EPL had earlier announced plans to sell TPI's 108-megawatt power plant to Banpu Power for US$100m as part of efforts to restructure TPI's US$2.8bn debt through the sale of non-core assets.
EPL director Peter Gothard said the signing of a sale agreement with Banpu would not take place as planned in July. This would allow EPL more time to talk to the unions to ensure they were happy with the deal.
TPI's eight unions said the sale of the plant would not help TPI's restructuring as it would result in a cash injection of no more than US$21m after the deduction of expenses on power transmission lines and clean-up work.
4 July. Sumitomo Chemical forecasts that its basic chemicals
division will increase its operating profit by 32.8% year-on-year
for its financial year to 31 March 2003 on the expectation of a
recovery in demand.
The Japanese major estimates its chemical division will increase its operating profit to Yen4bn (US$24m) from Yen3bn in 2001-02. The division's sales are forecast to grow by 2.4% to Yen178bn from Yen173.8bn.
Sumitomo's petrochemical division is projected to report an operating profit of Yen4bn, which would be a solid rebound from an operating loss of Yen0.4bn in 2001-02. Petrochemical sales are estimated to rise 5% to Yen354bn from Yen338.6bn.
5 July. Construction of China's West-East pipeline project will
start immediately following the signing of a joint venture
framework agreement between PetroChina and an international
consortium comprising Shell, ExxonMobil and Russia's Gazprom.
Under the agreement, PetroChina will hold a 50% stake in the project, Shell, ExxonMobil and Gazprom 15% each and Sinopec 5%.
PetroChina said it had already signed 45 Letters of Intent with downstream customers, most of them from the Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces or the Yangtse River delta region. Most of the potential customers are planning to use the gas as feedstock for power projects.
However, a number of downstream petrochemical projects are also expected to make use of the gas.
5 July. Trans Pacific Petrochemical Indotama (TPPI) has yet to
receive a firm written commitment from banks for a US$400m
The loan was expected to be finalised before a ceremony attended by President Megawati Sukarnoputri on 2 July during which the President pledged support to resume 14 projects in Indonesia, including the TPPI project.
The loan would finance the completion of TPPI's much-delayed aromatics project in Tuban, east Java, Indonesia.
TPPI hopes to finalise the loan by end-July or early August so that construction can resume by end-2002.
The delay is partly due to the difficulties that the Japan Bank for International Co-operation is experiencing in obtaining insurance from Nippon Export Credit Insurance.
5 July. Thailand's Justice Ministry has set up a joint committee
to investigate the US$2.8bn debt-restructuring plan of Thai
Petrochemical Industry (TPI), apparently in response to growing
opposition by union members to the sale of the company's non-core
The committee will have some 20 members, including representatives of unions, Justice Ministry officials, executives of Effective Planners Ltd -the plan administrator, former executives of TPI, TPI creditors and legal advisers.
5 July. Spanish major Ertisa has decided to suspend its 210000
tonne/ year phenol project in Thailand following its failure to
sign an offtake agreement with Bayer.
Ertisa was hoping to reach a long-term contract of 5-10 years with Bayer which is producing 160000 tonne/year of bisphenol A in Mab Ta Phut, Thailand.
However, Bayer is only prepared to commit to a short-term contract as it is able to secure phenol elsewhere.
Securing a reliable marketing agreement had been a major issue hindering the progress of the project, which was originally scheduled to come onstream at end-2003 or early 2004.
5 July. Enichem confirmed on Thursday that it shut its
acrylonitrile plant in Gela, Sicily, on 28 June, due to
The long-term fate of the plant now hinges on a judicial ruling on the concerns. The capacity of the plant is understood to be 105 000 tonne/year, although the company would not confirm this.
Trouble in Argentina, Brazil
8 July. Argentina's efforts to restructure its banking sector
are floundering due to a weak response to a government initiative
to exchange bank deposits for three-year dollar-denominated
At a recent auction, only 0.5% of eligible deposits were exchanged.
And in Brazil, the leftwing Workers' Party, which is leading the polls ahead of the presidential elections in October, has said it may back an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Fears over the party's policies have caused widespread investor panic and flight.
8 July. Turkey's ruling coalition was in disarray today, as
growing political instability prompted predictions that the
government would collapse and with it, the International Monetary
Fund-backed economic rescue programme.
Husamettin Ozkan, Deputy Prime Minister, and two other ministers of the Democratic Left party of Bulent Ecevit, the ailing Prime Minister, resigned late on Monday.
8 July. Nan Ya Plastics reported a 3.2% rise in sales revenue to
NT$50.25bn (US$1.5bn) for H1 2002 compared with the same period
last year due to higher polyester prices.
The company said H1 revenues for polyester fibre increased the most - by NT$840m - while the plastic division's sales increased by NT$460m.
Revenue for the electronics chemicals business rose by NT$290m during the same period.
8 July. Nan Ya Plastics has pushed back the startup of its
second 100 000 tonne/year phthalic anhydride (PA) project to
September from June.
The source said the facility was undergoing test runs and it would take another two months for the plant to be ready for commercial production.
Nan Ya earlier delayed startup to end-June from Q1 2002. The project was originally planned to come onstream at end-2001 but was delayed due to poor demand.
9 July. US President George W Bush confronted a barrage of
questions on his own corporate stock dealings as he pledged to take
a tougher line against corporate frauds. Bush dismissed claims that
he failed to properly disclose a 1990 share sale by saying that the
allegations were politically motivated.
And Bush promised the Securities and Exchange Commission more powers and a bigger budget to prevent repeats of the recent financial misreporting scandals that have seriously undermined confidence in the way the US does business. Ironic after all the criticism levelled by US analysts at the way Asia did business when the 1997 financial crisis hit this region.
8 July. Samsung Engineering, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and
Linde are expected to resubmit their technical and commercial bids
for Sabic's linear alpha olefins project in Al-Jubail, Saudi
Arabia, in August after specifications have been clarified at a
meeting scheduled for end-July. A contractor is expected to be
selected in early September.
The 150 000 tonne/year project will be built downstream of Sabic affiliate Jubail United Petrochemical Co's 1m tonne/year cracker complex which is due to come onstream in October 2004.
8 July. Indonesia's Parna Raya is planning a 150-200 000
tonne/year ammonium nitrate project downstream of Kaltim Parna
Industri's (KPI) 500 000 tonne/year ammonia plant at Bontang, East
Parna, which is a KPI partner, will invite state-owned explosives producer Dahana and state-owned ammonia and urea producer Pupuk Kaltim to participate in the ammonium nitrate project. Other investors are expected to come from Australia, Sweden, and Japan.
8 July. An ammonia spill at Shenxian County Fertiliser Co's
plant in Shandong, China, has resulted in the deaths of 13 workers,
according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. Eleven workers
were seriously injured and were sent to a nearby hospital for
treatment. Forty-eight workers were evacuated from the plant
The accident occurred at 02:00 hours local time on 8 July after a leakage of ammonia from a burst tube in one of the workshops at the plant site. Investigations into the accident are ongoing. The company was not immediately available for comment.
8 July. Abu Qir Fertilizers & Chemical Industries expects to
award a contract to build a second ammonium nitrate plant at Abu
Qir, Egypt, in September. Krupp Uhde and Snamprogetti are bidding
for the contract.
The 2400 tonne/day (792 000 tonne/year) plant is due onstream in July 2005, and will double Abu Qir Fertilizers & Chemical Industries' ammonium nitrate capacity at the site. The company also has two urea plants there.
8 July. A scandal brewing at Mexico's state-owned Petroleos
Mexicanos (Pemex) could complicate Mexican President Vincente Fox's
plans to increase foreign investment in the country's
According to local media reports, authorities are investigating several businessmen and former Pemex executives for allegedly paying construction contractors US$134m to build a petrochemical plant that was never built.
The office of Mexico's attorney general declined to confirm the reports.
But Noe Navarrete, a federal deputy and member of the congressional Energy Committee, warned that such allegations could jeopardise investor confidence in Mexico's petrochemical sector.
9 July. Shell Chemicals was forced to shut down its No2 Olefins unit at Deer Park, Texas, when a water cooling tower collapsed. There were no injuries as a result of the collapse. But employees at the complex were evacuated for an hour. The unit was operating at full capacity prior to the accident.
9 July. Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) reported a 5.12%
year-on-year increase in revenue to NT$31.44bn (US$940.55m) during
H1 2002 due to higher production and sales.
A company source said operating rates of plants which started up last year were raised during H1 2002. This includes its methyl methacrylate plant which had started up in Q1 2001. FPC had faced problems in raising the operating rate of this plant since it commenced operations.
FPC predicted that markets would improve in H2 2002, as PVC and polyethylene sales are expected to pick up owing to seasonal demand in Q3.
9 July. Two workers were injured in an explosion on 8 July at Japanese synthetic resin producer Nippon Kayaku's plant in Sanyo, Yamaguchi. Japanese media reports claimed the accident occurred at a unit that produces air-bag inflators. They added that the factory's roof and walls were damaged. The company was not available for comment.
9 July. Troubled Philippine petrochemical company Petrocorp may
not be able to survive 'very much longer' without new investment
and financial restructuring, said the company's chief executive
officer Henry Leung.
He said Petrocorp was suffering from heavy penalties imposed by creditor banks for late interest and loan payments. The indebted company is reported to have suffered losses totalling Peso4bn (US$79.4m) since its startup due to poor market conditions following the Asian economic crisis of 1998 and an influx of cheap PP imports.
The company has been unable to maintain a stable operating rate for the past two years due to a lack of funds to purchase feedstock. Industry observers said that Petrocorp's shareholders did not seem ready to inject more cash or capital into the operation.
Major shareholders include Chemical Industries of the Philippines, PNOC Petrochemical Development Corp, BASF, Itochu Corp and Sumitomo Corp, and Thai Petrochemical Industry.
Leung confirmed that while the company had been in talks with potential investors from Europe and Taiwan over the past few months, those talks had not come to fruition.
9 July. The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (Ibra) is
finalising a financing scheme with foreign lenders to inject a
US$400m loan into Trans Pacific Petrochemical Indotama (TPPI) to
finance the completion of a long-delayed aromatics centre project
in East Java, Indonesia.
An Ibra source said all parties involved in the financing were expected to sign the loan agreement by the end of this month. Ibra had earlier said that a letter of commitment from the banks was expected in the week starting 24June.The deal has been delayed several times since the start of the year.
9 July. Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co (Safco) has extended the
deadline for the submission of engineering bids for its No4
ammonia-urea facility in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia to 7 September
from 20 July.
A source close to the project said the extension would give the five shortlisted contractors more time to prepare their proposals for the project. The bidders are Toyo Engineering, Chiyoda Corp, Krupp Uhde, Kellogg Brown & Root, and a consortium formed by Snamprogetti and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The plant is expected to produce 990000 tonne/year of ammonia and 1.07m tonne/year of urea.
10 July. Taiwanese purified terephthalic acid (PTA) major China
American Petrochemical Co (Capco) is on track to start operations
at its No6 line in Taichung by the end of February or early March,
the company said.
The new line will have a capacity of 700 000 tonne/year which will boost Capco's total PTA production to 2.12m tonne/year.
The major, owned 50% by BP, 25% by state-owned Chinese Petroleum Corp and 25% by China Investment Holding Trust, currently produces 1.42m tonne/year of PTA in Lin Yuan, Kaohsiung.
10 July. Taiwanese polyester majors Tuntex Distinct Corp (TDC)
and Far Eastern Textile (FET) have reported mixed results for H1
TDC saw its H1 revenue increase by 5.44% to NT$5.42bn (US$162.73m) from H1 2001 on better polyester markets, a company spokesman said.
However, FET posted a 4.12% drop in revenue in the first six months of this year to NT$15.51bn on lower production. An FET spokesman said the company suffered production losses after closing a 30 000 spindles/year cotton yarn plant permanently in Q4 2001. The plant will be relocated elsewhere, possibly in China. The cotton yarn business accounts for 14% of FET's revenue.
10 July. Nippon Petrochemicals will permanently shut its 50 000
tonne/year branched alkyl benzene (BAB) and 35000 tonne/year
propylene polymer plants at Kawasaki, Japan, a company spokesman
The company has decided to withdraw from the BAB business, as the product is being increasingly replaced by linear alkyl benzene the world over. Both of these products are used as feedstock to produce synthetic detergents.
Nippon said it currently does not have any concrete plans for building another plant to replace the BAB facility which will be scrapped in August next year.
10 July. An exceptional surge in activity in the chemicals
cluster was mainly responsible for a 3.2% growth in real terms in
Singapore's GDP (gross domestic product) in the second quarter of
2002 over Q2 last year, the Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI)
MTI said good growth in the chemicals cluster resulted in a strong but narrowly based rebound in Singapore's manufacturing sector, despite the fact that the cluster's quarterly performance was normally typically volatile.
Monthly figures released this year by the Economic Development Board have consistently shown that petrochemicals and industrial/speciality chemicals are leading Singapore's manufacturing growth.
10 July. Honam Petrochemical hopes to move forward with its
plans to acquire Hyundai Petrochemical in the week beginning 15
July after it receives a memorandum from Hyundai's mergers and
acquisitions advisor Goldman Sachs detailing the value and
specifications of the company's assets, a high-level Honam source
The source also revealed for the first time that Honam was free to move ahead with negotiations for Hyundai's assets after having received approval from its parent, The Lotte Group.
The information memorandum prepared by Goldman Sachs is expected to detail the value and specifications of Hyundai's assets which have been valued independently at Won3300bn (US$2.6bn)
11 July. South Korean President Kim Dae Jung has picked the
country's first female prime minister and replaced six other
ministers in a reshuffle aimed at strengthening his hand ahead of
December's presidential polls.
Chang Sang, 62, a former university dean, replaced Lee Han Dong. The posts being reshuffled include defence, justice, and information and telecommunications ministers.
The widely anticipated move is seen as an effort to reinforce Kim's administration with the presidential election five months away. Political parties had called for a non-partisan, technocratic cabinet to ensure fair polls.
11 July. Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) will consider
injecting public funds into merged banks as part of a policy
package designed to encourage mergers between regional financial
institutions, the FSA said in a just-released policy
Under the FSA's plan, however, the government will inject public funds into only those regional institutions that compile sweeping business-restructuring plans promising improved profit.
Other proposed measures aimed at facilitating mergers include tax incentives to lighten the financial burden on merging institutions, simplification of the merger process, and an overhaul of the deposit insurance system.
The FSA will hold talks with relevant ministries and agencies, and finalise a plan by the end of August.
11 July. Qwest Communications has become the latest US
telecommunications company against which a criminal investigation
has been launched, following in the footsteps of Global Crossing
Moody's Investors Service has warned that the criminal investigation could undermine Qwest's efforts to shore up its finances and took the drastic step of slashing Qwest's credit rating by three notches.
The probe is likely to add to the industry's financial crisis, investors said.
Qwest has been attempting to sell assets before the end of this year to meet debt repayments and avoid a default.
The investigation could hamper its efforts to raise cash from asset sales and jeopardise a planned US$300m asset securitisation programme, the ratings agency said. It could also have the longer-term effect of driving away customers, it added.
The criminal investigation at Qwest throws the spotlight on a board of directors that includes eminent names, including Craig Barrett, chief executive of Intel, Vinod Khosla, one of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capitalists, and Thomas Donohue, head of the US Chamber of Commerce.
11 July. Taiwan's Dairen Chemical is planning a 30 000
tonne/year 1,4 butanediol plant and a 30 000 tonne/year ethylene
vinyl acetate (EVA) plant in Yangzhou, China.
The company has yet to select a location for the US$70m projects which are scheduled to start up at the end of 2003.
A spokesman said discussions were ongoing with potential investors to join the projects, which will be Dairen's first in Yangzhou.
11 July. Tosoh Corp will invest Yen2.5bn (US$21.31m) in a 70 000
tonne/year tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) facility and supporting
port infrastructure at its Yokkaichi cracker complex in
Feedstock will be sourced from the C4 streams out of Tosoh's cracker, which has an ethylene capacity of 500 000 tonne/year. The TBA project is due onstream in April 2004.
Tosoh will also build two new piers to handle additional volumes from the project.
Tosoh said the TBA project will help the company to add value to its C4 streams which are otherwise being used as a fuel.
11 July. Creditors of financially hamstrung South Korean
petrochemical major Hyundai Petrochemical hope to close the sale of
the company by November-December this year.
A source at Hyundai's creditor-in-chief and debt restructuring agency Woory Bank - formally known as Hanvit Bank - said an information memorandum would be sent out to prospective buyers next week.
Prospective buyers will be required to submit preliminary bid documents by the end of August.
a bold vision
Dhirubhai, as he was fondly known, was widely acclaimed as an innovative entrepreneur who along with his sons, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, built the only Indian private company to make it to the Fortune 500 list of the world's largest corporations.
The son of a village schoolteacher, he started his career as a worker in a Shell service station in Aden, Yemen, but returned to India to build an empire that now boasts a net worth of over Rs300bn (US$6.14bn).
Dhirubhai has been hailed by the world media for his keen sense of business with a razor-sharp ability to negotiate his way through the labyrinth of the Indian political establishment.
India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said:'He envisioned world-class capacities in core areas of the nation's infrastructure in the private sector and translated that vision into reality in record time.'
Under his leadership, the Reliance group became a leading petrochemicals producer diversifying into petroleum refining, telecommunications and information technology. Now employing a workforce of 85,000, the group's integrated Jamnagar complex houses the world's largest grassroots refinery at 27m tonne/year.
RIL is the world's second-largest producer of polyester yarns and ranks sixth in the production of polymers.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
Asian Chemical Connections