15 December 2006 19:49 [Source: ICB Americas]
Who are the most important people in chemicals? Our 80 ICIS journalists around the world have hand-picked the power players that we believe have most shaped our industry this year, and ranked them in order of their influence.
AT THE risk of provoking a huge debate, ICIS has come up with the Top 40 power-players in and around the industry - including industry executives, association leaders, politicians, and environmentalists. And, as befits ICIS's global coverage, it is a global listing.
The criteria for inclusion in our Top 40 for 2006 were straightforward: has that person, in the past 12 months or so, made a significant impact on a company, a policy or regulation, or in the perception of the industry as a whole? Or, if an outsider, have they had a significant impact on the way in which the chemical industry performs?
As an industry, we are not renowned for stand-out leaders, but there are some that have become industry, if not household, names. Company heads well known for their drive and vision include Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries, Jon, and now Peter, Huntsman of Huntsman Corp, Mohamed Al-Mady of SABIC and Jim Ratcliffe of INEOS.
Politicians of note include President Bush - whose policies kept oil prices sky-high in most of 2006 - and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has driven the green agenda in California and thus set the pace for the rest of the US. And what about those instrumental in the EU's Reach policy negotiations, trade policies and political lobbying? They are all here - the great and the good.
Jim Ratcliffe heads our list as the most influential person in chemicals this year, after his mega-acquisition of BP's Innovene petrochemicals business for $9bn (€6.8bn) at the end of 2005. Starting from small beginnings in the mid-1990s in fine chemicals with Inspec, Ratcliffe now controls one of the world's top five chemical players, with sales of around $33bn. Since its creation in 1998, INEOS has acquired assets from many leading chemical majors, giving it a heritage that includes BP Chemicals, Union Carbide, ICI, Dow Chemical, Unilever, Degussa, EniChem, Solvay, Amoco, Hoechst, Monsanto and Innovene. Ratcliffe has been lauded for his innovative financing and his philosophy of rewarding employees with significant stakes in the company
Mohamed Al-Mady is a significant player on the world petrochemicals stage, through his presence at major international meetings, and as chairman of the newly formed Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association. Since his appointment to the top post in SABIC in 1998, he has driven its huge expansion, both in terms of production in Saudi Arabia and through globalisation - notably with the acquisitions of DSM's petrochemicals business in Europe and, this year, Huntsman's European petrochemical business. Al-Mady joined SABIC at its creation in 1976, and is a chemical engineer, with a degree from the University of Colorado and a masters in chemical engineering from the University of Wyoming.
Wang Tianpu, 43, has been a board director of the Chinese oil and petrochemicals giant since 2001, and its president since 2005. He has seen it become a major player not only within China, but increasingly on the world stage, with stock market listings in Hong Kong and New York, and forays into Middle East partnerships for projects in China and Saudi Arabia, where it is offering engineering expertise. Wang is a professor-level senior engineer, and has experience in production and management in the petrochemical industry. During his tenure, Sinopec has executed major petrochemical joint ventures with BASF and BP, and is now in a position to go it alone on major petrochemical developments.
When the European Commission's chemicals policy, Reach, is finally agreed, the final form will have been influenced by Guido Sacconi, the Italian Socialist MEP, who has acted as rapporteur for the legislation in its Parliamentary readings. He has advocated the principle of mandatory substitution of hazardous chemicals in the Reach negotiations, which industry has resisted. He sits on the Parliament's Committee on the environment, public health and food safety. He has been a member of the European Parliament since 1999. He was a parliamentary delegate to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002.
Peter Huntsman is president and CEO of Huntsman Corp, with estimated sales of more than $10bn (€7.5bn) in 2006. With the increasing volatility of natural gas prices, Huntsman has led the charge for an investigation on the manipulation of natural gas futures prices by hedge funds. He is also leading the transformation of Huntsman away from a commodity company and into a differentiated chemical company by selling off its commodity businesses and building up select specialties. Major deals in 2006 include the acquisition of Ciba Specialty Chemicals' textile effects business for $271m and the sale of its European olefins and plastics business to SABIC for $700m.
You would expect Andrew Liveris, as chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical, which is estimated to take in more than $48bn (€36bn) of revenues this year, to make any list of movers and shakers. But Liveris's prominence this year has been as much due to his vocal advocacy of green concerns. He made a splash in July with a speech at the United Nations, promising to work with the world body on halving the number of people without clean drinking water by 2015. Liveris maintains that his good-deed promotion will actually help the bottom line both by limiting Dow's own energy consumption and entering growth businesses such as water purification.
Picking one of the BASF senior management team is never easy, but Kurt Bock stands out as a board member with far-reaching views. A deep understanding of the sector and a keen strategic eye have helped to lift Bock from the ordinary. This year has been an exceptional one for BASF, during which a strong financial performance has been accompanied by acquisitions that will give the company a less cyclical and potentially higher growth portfolio. Bock has also helped to steer the group through its first hostile bid and the first such corporate battle for a German company. Bock has been BASF's chief financial officer since 2003. He describes himself as the shepherd for BASF's value-based management approach.
Bush's policies in the Middle East - especially on Iran - have largely been behind the sustained high oil prices that have afflicted the chemicals industry this year and last. The 43rd president, himself weaned in the oil fields of Texas, warned in his January State of the Union address that America was "addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." This was written when the price of a barrel of crude oil was hovering near a then-record $68/bbl. Bush's stance against global warming also leads us to place him as influential in the environmental arena, albeit negatively. However, the president has seen his power fade, with the loss of both houses of Congress to the opposition in November's mid-term elections.
Reliance is well established as the leading player on the Indian petrochemicals scene and, under the leadership of Mukesh Ambani, continues to invest heavily, with plans for a major refinery and polymers complex in progress. Ambani joined Reliance in 1981 and initiated its backward integration from textiles into polyester fibres, and further into petrochemicals. Reliance now has manufacturing capacities of 12m tonnes/year. Since he took sole control of the company last year, after a family power struggle, Ambani has maintained its philosophy of backward vertical integration. Reliance is active in polyester, fibre intermediates, plastics, petrochemicals and petroleum refining.
While Guido Sacconi (ranked No 4) has been the industry's bugbear in the Reach negotiations, Gunter Verheugen has been a champion for the industry's views, seeking to keep down the cost of the legislation, and championing the need for a strong and competitive chemicals manufacturing base in Europe. He was appointed a commissioner in 1999, after years of activity in the German Social Democratic Party, and was a German minister of state from 1998 to 1999. He has responsibility for coordinating the Commission's role in the Competitiveness Council, and chairing the Group of Commissioners for the Competitiveness Council.
Venezuela's flamboyant leader, Hugo Chavez, holds a tight grip on the country's oil and gas supplies, and is intent on developing its petrochemicals sector. State-owned petrochemicals company Pequiven has embarked on a six-year expansion programme under Chavez's leadership. The programme includes a major new project in Jose, and capacity expansions at El Tablazo. But Chavez's geopolitical objectives and his anti-American stance influence the way Pequiven does business, and could deter overseas investors. Following his re-election in December, the self-defined 21st-century socialist leader has confirmed his commitment to push for political, social and energy integration in the region.
DuPont has estimated sales of more than $27bn (€20bn) in 2006. In the face of a US slowdown, Holliday has pushed earnings growth by cutting costs and boosting sales in non-G7 countries, which have grown at an average rate of 17%/year over the past five years. Also, he says, DuPont has a biopipeline worth more than $3bn, and expects to generate more than 33% of its global revenues from new products in 2006. Vowing to "shape the transformation from a petroleum-based economy", Holliday unveiled a venture with BP to produce biobutanol, starting in the UK in 2007 and the US in 2010.
Hamad Al-Terkait not only heads the rapidly expanding Equate Petrochemical joint venture in Kuwait, owned mainly by the state's Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC) and Dow Chemical, but is also the vice chairman of the newly formed Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association. He has worked for PIC and Equate for 27 years, and his tenure at the head of Equate has been marked by his innovative management ideas. Equate is planning to double olefins capacity with a new cracker complex in Shuaiba, which will also expand Equate's product portfolio. He is a graduate of Kuwait University, with a qualification in business management and marketing.
A dual award for these two trade ministers - for sorting out a trade dispute between China and the EU that might have had us all paying much more for clothes in the past 18 months. The impact on the textile industry, and hence the chemical sector, would have been dramatic. The textiles row blew up after the ending of import quotas in 2005, which saw millions of items of Chinese goods heading to Europe, only to be stuck in warehouses until Peter Mandelson and Bo Xilai reached a compromise.
Dow Corning is a $4bn (€3bn) global leader in silicon-based technology. A PhD organic chemist who joined the company as a researcher in 1983, Stephanie Burns has kept the company customer-focused and scientifically innovative, while driving it into the emerging markets of eastern Europe and Asia. Dow Corning spent nine years in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over breast-implant litigation, but the company has surged back under her leadership, this year reporting sales for the first three quarters of $3.2bn, a 10% increase over last year. An advocate for science, maths and technology education, Burns was recognised with the 2006 Vanguard award by the Chemical Education Foundation.
Peter Elverding enters our list on two counts: first, for his restructuring of DSM, coupled with devising the company's Vision 2010 growth strategy, and, second, for his steering of Cefic's Chemistry for Europe project. With restructuring at DSM almost complete, in September, Elverding embarked on a €750m ($995m) share buy-back programme and an acquisition drive to bolster the company's nutrition and performance products businesses. Meanwhile, his two-year presidency of Cefic, which ended in September, has seen the moulding of the Chemistry for Europe project, which promises improvements in the way the trade association will serve the industry's interests.
China: the word still comes up more than any other in chemical industry strategy presentations. The country continues its attraction for western industry for its phenomenal economic growth, its rapidly growing markets for chemicals and its cheap labour costs. Keeping this under control is president Hu Jintao, who has to try to cool the economic engine while still maintaining calm in the sprawling country. Then there is the question of China's rapid industrialisation and its impact on the global environment, given that it is now the world's third-largest economy. Hu, born in 1942, has been president since 2003, succeeding Jiang Zemin.
Chinh Chu has led private equity group Blackstone's investment in Nalco, SunGard Data Systems, Nycomed, and LIFFE. He is best known in chemicals for Blackstone's acquisition of Celanese, and for the financial engineering that saw Blackstone's backers more than quadrupling their investment in the deal. Analysts admire Chu for the way he helped to realise the value inherent in the ongoing restructuring at Celanese, and Celanese management for the resources gained to expand by acquiring Acetex and Vinamul. But Blackstone's profiting from its acquisition and initial public offering of Celanese has not always attracted favourable attention.
Jose Carlos Grubisich, Braskem's CEO, has helped to shape the Brazilian company into Latin America's leading chemicals producer. He is pursuing an international strategy - focusing initially on Venezuela - and wants Braskem to become one of the top 10 petrochemical companies in the world in the next five years. Grubisich joined Braskem from Rhodia, where he was president of the Brazilian and Latin American operations and then a global vice president. Braskem's creation in 2002, through the merger of various players, was a major step in the restructuring of Brazil's fragmented petrochemicals industry, and Grubisich wants the company to play a key role in further consolidation.
Hiromasa Yonekura of Sumitomo Chemical is eyeing overseas expansion and focusing on core competencies as part of the company's strategy to expand the business. To take advantage of cheap raw material in the Middle East, last year Sumitomo Chemical formed a joint venture with Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) to build an integrated petrochemical refining plant in Rabigh, which will produce 1.3m tonnes/year of ethylene, 900,000 tonnes/year of propylene and other products. Aramco will provide feedstocks such as crude oil, ethane and butane, while Sumitomo will supply the technology and market the products.
When Lanxess made its debut in 2005, as the rubbers, polymers and chemicals spin-off from Bayer, many industry observers cast doubts on the prospects for what they perceived as a ragbag of non-synergistic businesses. But chairman Axel Claus Heitmann is proving them wrong. His four-phase corporate strategy focusing on costs through performance improvements and targeted restructuring, and portfolio management via adjustments and acquisitions is already delivering results. This year has seen the disposals of its paper and fibres business units and the iSL subsidiary of Rhein Chemie, and already Heitmann is turnign his attention to strategic growth through acquisitions.
The "Governator" is leading the charge in the US to cap greenhouse emissions and to promote the use of alternative energy, such as solar and wind, as well as hybrid vehicles. The California legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act this year, with the goal of cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, to 1990 levels, by 2020 and by a further 80% by 2050. Governor Schwarzenegger is also working with other states, such as New York, to develop a nationwide emissions credit programme. The passage of the groundbreaking legislation has led to pressure on other states to also cap their factory emissions. He is also working with other countries, such as the UK, to curb greenhouse emissions.
Wang Yung-Ching, one of Taiwan's most well-known businessmen, is the founder of Formosa Plastics Group. The 89-year-old entrepreneur has built a business empire that includes companies such as Nan Ya Plastics and Formosa Chemicals & Fibre. Formosa Plastics is one of the biggest plastic makers in the world, with diversified interests in oil refining and the manufacturing of electronic materials, fibres and textiles. Despite handing over day-to-day management control to his family, and relinquishing the group chairmanship in June, Wang continues to hold decision-making powers for major personnel appointments and investment and procurement projects of more than $1m (€750,000) in value.
Honeywell Specialty Materials is a $3.2bn (€2.4bn) global leader in high-performance specialty materials. After taking the job in 2001, Nance Dicciani led a massive restructuring of the company, between 2002 and 2005 exiting or shutting down 11 businesses with sales of about $1.4bn, while acquiring businesses with almost $400m in sales. Dicciani has kept sales growing steadily at 8-10%/year and put a leaner, more focused Honeywell Specialty Materials back into expansion mode. A PhD chemical engineer, in February she was appointed by US president George Bush to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Wolfgang Reitzle motored into his lead role at Linde from Ford, where he had headed the luxury car unit Premier Automotive Group. He wins his place in our listing for driving to the finishing line one of the chemical industry's biggest takeovers of the year - the €12bn ($16bn) acquisition of rival industrial gases group BOC. The deal - three years in the making - has advanced Linde to the No 1 position in industrial gases, overtaking both Air Liquide and Air Products.
Leading the American Chemistry Council (ACC) as president since 2005, Jack Gerard has revitalised the organisation with a major restructuring aimed at promoting advocacy on global, federal and state level, as well as public education. This year, the ACC launched its essential2 campaign to educate the US public on the benefits of chemistry. The association has also been a significant advocate for opening up areas in the US for natural gas exploration, and addressing issues in chemical plant security, rail competitiveness and the transportation of hazardous materials. Gerard is also leading the charge to promote Responsible Care on a global basis.
Al Gore has emerged as the foremost political activist on the environment with the publishing of his book An Inconvenient Truth and the distribution of the film of the same title this year. He warns of the dire consequences of global warming on the quality of life and economic development. Following the release of the Stern Report by a UK economist on a pending major economic disruption from global warming, the British government hired Al Gore as an adviser on climate change. Gore continues to warn the world about global warming and has had a dramatic impact on the visibility of the issue.
To turn a state-owned petrochemical giant into a profitable private company is no easy task, especially in a country such as Thailand, where the petrochemical sector does not enjoy the low-cost feedstock resources that the Middle East has, and where any effort at privatisation comes under attack from consumer groups. Prasert Bunsumpun, chairman of Thailand's premier oil and petrochemical major, deserves kudos for pursuing his strategy of privatisation, to turn an unwieldy behemoth into an efficiently-run, profitable company. So much so that in the first half of 2006, PTT recorded net profits of Bt55.38bn ($1.5bn, €1.2bn) following sales of Bt583.62bn, a 25% surge from the first half of 2005.
As president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), Bob Slaughter has been a fierce advocate for US energy security, specifically to open up areas in the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida coast for natural gas exploration. Through his, and others' efforts, the US Congress is debating the issue and legislation to open up part of the Outer Continental Shelf for exploration has passed the Senate.
Ryuichi Tomizawa was responsible for successfully turning around the company when he was promoted to his current position in 2002. Before that, Mitsubishi Chemical was saddled with debts, and its chemical and electronics businesses were ailing. Previous restructuring efforts before Tomizawa came on board had failed to bear fruit. Tomizawa spearheaded an aggressive cost-cutting exercise, and steered the company towards higher-margin businesses through joint ventures. He also focused on putting more money into research and development in a move to produce new and innovative products.
Joseph Acker is president of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), which comprises 275 companies, many of them small to mid-size firms. After breaking away from ACC's Responsible Care programme in 2005, SOCMA has developed and is pushing its own safety and environmental programme called ChemStewards, offering more flexibility for small to mid-size producers. Acker is also calling for tighter controls on the quality of active pharmaceutical ingredients imported into the US and Europe from countries such as India and China.
Over just six years, the Bhartia brothers have transformed Vam Organic Chemicals from an industrial chemicals producer into Jubilant Organosys, one of India's largest life science companies. Jubilant has a strong presence in the pharmaceuticals business, from custom research and manufacturing through to drug discovery services. Jubilant has established a global footprint by buying companies in Europe and the US. The Bhartias remain committed to innovation-led growth.
Appointed as US Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2005, Michael Chertoff is seeking to establish a federal mandate for chemical-plant site security. He aims to give the DHS authority to set standards, develop a risk-based approach for different kinds of facilities, validate security measures, and insist on compliance. In September, he endorsed compromise security legislation aimed at protecting chemical facilities without destroying business.
Hamad Rashid Al-Mohannadi is overseeing a major increase in capacity at Qapco, as Qatar seeks to monetise its vast gas reserves, partly through petrochemicals. His company, in which France's Total holds a 20% stake, will raise ethylene capacity from 525,000 tonnes/year to 1.32m tonnes/year by 2009, and will boost low density polyethylene (LPDE) output to 650,000 tonnes/year. Al-Mohannadi has been vice chairman since 2004 and is on the board of the newly formed Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association.
With the chutzpah to bring off the purchase of Basell in the face of competition from Jim Ratcliffe at INEOS (ranked No 1) and the combined weight of the Iranian government, Len Blavatnik has shown that he deserves a place in the top 40. He founded, and is the principal shareholder of, Access Industries, the successful bidder. Blavatnik has stakes in a number of extractive industries in the central Asian republics, including coal in Kazakhstan. As a board member of BP's joint venture with TNK, he sold 50% to BP in 2003, he has helped to open the door into this idiosyncratic but gas-rich central Asian state for serious petrochemical players.
Judith Hackitt is driving through this major Cefic restructuring project, designed to streamline and improve representation of the chemical industry in Europe, at pan-EU and national level. Now based in Brussels, she formerly held a widely regarded tenure of the post of director general of the UK's Chemical Industries Association (CIA), based in London, and gained a prestigious award in recognition of her services to the chemical industry and to occupational health and safety in the UK. She is a chemical engineer and worked for Exxon Chemicals and Elementis before joining the CIA. She is already being tipped as the next director general of Cefic, to succeed Alain Perroy.
Ma Jun has emerged as one of China's most powerful environmentalists at a time when the world's most populous nation grapples to control degradation of natural resources and rising levels of pollution. A former investigative journalist turned full-time environmental crusader, he has begun to highlight the devastating impact that chemical pollution is having on China's most precious resource: water. And chemical companies are in his sights. In September through his non-governmental organisation called the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, he published a powerful online map that shows which companies, and which sources of pollutants, are ravaging which parts of China's myriad of tributaries.
Jose Ricardo Roriz Coelho is a player in the Brazilian and Latin American petrochemicals industries. As president of Sao Paulo-based resin producers association Siresp, he campaigns on behalf of Brazil's resin producers. He is also a director of Brazilian chemicals association Abiquim and Latin American petrochemicals and chemicals association APLA. He was president of Polibrasil, a 50:50 polypropylene (PP) joint venture between Suzano and Basell, and became Suzano Petroquimica's co-chief executive in 2006, a year after the Brazilian firm took control of Polibrasil.
Industry outsider Hans Wijers arrived at Akzo Nobel four years ago - following stints as a university professor of economics, minister for economic affairs in the Dutch government and, at the time of his appointment, a senior vice president with the Boston Consulting Group. But he has made his mark. In 2002, Akzo Nobel had 40 business segments, many of which - particularly in chemicals - were underperforming. Wijers has cut costs, turned some businesses around, divested others. His highly successful restructuring programme culminated this year with announcement of plans to spin off pharmaceuticals to concentrate on coatings and the now healthier slimmed-down chemicals activities.
In January, Bahn-suk Kim took the reins as president and CEO of South Korean major LG Chem. He had previously been president and CEO of LG Daesan Petrochemicals from 2005, and president and CEO of subsidiary LG Petrochemical from 2001. He has taken charge at a time when LG Chem has incorporated LG Daesan, as its olefins division, but faces the challenges of high energy costs and keen competition from China. Kim is focusing on R&D in a move to instil a spirit of innovation in the company's employees. His aim is to develop differentiated products and grow new businesses, with the ambitious mid-to-long term strategy to concentrate on strengthening its vertically integrated business structure.
In September, British entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson committed to invest all future profits from his transportation businesses - an estimated $3bn (€2.3bn) over the next 10 years - into renewable energy initiatives.
Gholamhossein Nejabat became managing director of NPC and Iran's deputy minister for petroleum in October. He is expected to revitalise and speed up the country's petrochemical projects.
Chevron veteran Patricia Woertz swapped oil refining for grain processing when she took the reins at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in April. Woertz's challenge is to drive ADM into biofuels and other renewable energy products.
Craig Morrison has steered Hexion through integration, cost cutting, acquisitions and sell-offs, but an initial public offering was postponed in June due to adverse market conditions.
Stacy Methvin has taken one of the most senior roles in the North American petrochemicals industry at a time when the US base chemicals manufacturing industry is facing its greatest-ever threat from Middle East and Asian competition.
We intend to run the Top 40 annually. No doubt you will have your own opinions and favourites. Do take a look and let us know if you agree with our power player listing. Comments can be emailed to editors email@example.com (ICIS Chemical Business) or firstname.lastname@example.org (ICIS Chemical Business Americas). We are looking forward eagerly to your comments.
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