15 October 2007 00:00 [Source: ICB]
OMG to buy Rockwood electronics units
OM Group (OMG) has agreed to acquire Rockwood Holdings' electronics businesses, excluding its French unit, for $265m (€188m), the Cleveland, Ohio-based specialty chemicals producer said last week. "Through the successful execution of this strategy, the company expects to achieve consolidated revenues of $2bn-4bn by 2010," said OMG in a statement. The businesses supply chemicals used in the manufacture of semiconductors and printed circuit boards as well as photo-imaging masks for semiconductor and photovoltaic producers.
US chems vulnerable to terrorist threat
US chemical manufacturers and other critical industries are not adequately prepared to cope with the growing potential for insider terrorist threats, a presidential advisory panel said last week. The National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) said in a preliminary report that the chemical industry and 16 other business sectors that make up US critical infrastructure "are immature in dealing with the insider threat."
SONHOE plans £2bn UK upgrader refinery
A £2bn ($4.07bn, ¤2.87bn) oil refinery and upgrading facility is planned for the Tees Valley in the northeast of England, said hydrocarbon development company SONHOE last week. The facility will be close to petrochemical operations in the area, including SABIC Europe's 865,000 tonne/year steam cracker at Wilton. It will be designed to process 200,000 bbls/day of heavy crude oil into low-sulfur diesel, petrochemical feedstock naphtha and kerosene for the UK market and for export. The refinery will produce about 1.5m tonnes/year of naphtha and light ends.
EC plans to reduce biofuel planting subsidy
The European Commission (EC) is likely to reduce the subsidy paid to European farmers to encourage them to grow biofuels after more land was planted with the crops than expected. The energy crop premium of €45/hectare ($63/ha) was introduced in 2004 to persuade farmers to grow biofuel crops, such as sugar beet, cereals and rapeseed. The EC ruled this year that the maximum area allowed to benefit from the subsidy should be increased from 1.5m, to 2m ha.
Hungary protects MOL from takeovers
Hungarian MPs have approved a law that would make it more difficult for foreign companies to take over companies deemed "national champions" such as oil, gas and petrochemical group MOL. A spokesman for the office of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said the bill, dubbed 'lex MOL', was in response to recent threats from Austria's oil, gas and petrochemicals group OMV to go ahead with a hostile bid for MOL.
Polynt Group buys specialties in China
The Polynt Group has acquired China-based Hinbo International Industrial Company's special plasticizers business for €1m ($1.4m) as part of a strategy of geographical growth in Asia. "The acquisition is integrated with the production activity of trimellitic anhydride acquired in China in July," the Italian polymer producer added. The special plasticizers will be manufactured at the Polynt Chemical (Changzhou) factory, it said. "Within 12 months, a new 25,000 tonnes/year production plant will be built [at the Changzhou site] to serve the growing Chinese and Asiatic market," it added.
US economy is slowest, says Fitch Ratings
The US will have the slowest-growing economy among the world's developed regions, as a global credit crisis takes hold and consumer spending plummets. Fitch Ratings said the US gross domestic product (GDP) will grow by 1.7% in 2008, down from an earlier estimate of 1.8%. That compares with a 2.1% growth rate for the European area, 1.8% for Japan and 1.9% for the UK. Fitch lowered its estimate of US economic growth because of tightening credit, a deteriorating labor market and falling house prices. The US economy will not slip into a recession, but consumer spending will be nearly flat over the next six months.
ExxonMobil forms polyolefin business
ExxonMobil has formed a specialty compounds and composites business to focus on the development, production and marketing of engineered polyolefin compounds. "The creation of the new business is a significant step in ExxonMobil Chemical's global specialty products strategy," said Jim McKinley, global specialty compounding manager. The business will utilise ExxonMobil's polymer and process development capabilities and global reach, the company said.
Clariant buys Colombia's Toschem
Swiss Specialty chemicals company Clariant has purchased Colombian chemical and service supplier Toschem. Toschem, which supplies the oil, gas and industrial water treatment markets, and Clariant, have not disclosed the financial details of the deal. "The acquisition of Toschem marks the most recent step in realising the global growth strategy for Clariant Oil Services," the company said. "The oil and gas industry in Colombia has been continuously growing over the last decade and therefore provides additional market opportunities for Clariant," it added.
PPG plans to developcoatings for laptops
PPG Industries and Agion Technologies will jointly develop, manufacture and market antimicrobial coatings for use on laptops, addressing growing consumer concerns about bacteria and microbes on computer surfaces. Agion, based in Wakefield, Massachusetts, US, is a supplier of silver-based antimicrobial solutions. The partnership will allow PPG, a big US paint and coatings maker, to offer coatings containing Agion's antimicrobial technology. Many computer surfaces harbor microbes, and it is difficult to keep these surfaces sufficiently sterile, the companies say.
Tessenderlo seeks inorganic partners
Belgium chemical group Tessenderlo is seeking partners and alliances for all parts of its inorganic business, including its phosphate division. "Certainly for the phosphates division, problems will arise from 2008 from expected higher prices for phosphate ore. Overcapacity is also threatened," said Frank Coenen, head of Tessenderlo's chemical division, in the Belgium business daily De Tijd. "We urgently need to go after an alliance with other players or with raw materials suppliers to counter the negative effects," Coenen added.
Akzo Nobel to sell fleet solutions unit
Akzo Nobel plans to divest its Nobilas claims and fleet solutions business to the UK-based Innovation Group as its nonpaints-related outsourcing activities no longer fit with the company's strategy. "We believe that the Innovation Group is a better owner for continuing what Nobilas has built up," said Akzo Nobel chief financial officer Rob Frohn. The deal, which is subject to consultation with employee-representative bodies in various countries, is due to be completed in this quarter, officials with the Dutch coatings and chemical firm have said.
MRPL floats tenders for aromatics unit
India's Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) invited expressions of interest from Indian and foreign companies last week for its $1.2bn (€852m) aromatics complex at Mangalore in Karnataka state. The tenders are for setting up a purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant, which would use up to 920,000 tonnes/year of paraxylene (PX), and other downstream plants to utilize up to 140,000 tonnes/year of benzene, MRPL said. "The tenders also include lifting of PX and benzene on a long-term basis for further processing or trading purposes," the company added.
GrowHow UK to close Severnside plants
GrowHow UK, the recently formed joint venture between Terra Industries and Kemira GrowHow, plans to close its ammonia and fertilizer plants at Severnside, UK. The plants, which have capacity to produce 265,000 tonnes/year of ammonia and 500,000 tonnes/year of ammonium nitrate, will cease production at the end of January 2008. "The facility is too small to compete effectively without immediate significant investment," said GrowHow's CEO Paul Thompson.
INEOS NOVA to close Canada PS plant
US styrenics joint venture INEOS NOVA plans to shut down its 120m lb/year (54,000 tonne/year) polystyrene (PS) plant in Montreal, Canada, by the end of the year. The shutdown will remove high-cost capacity and allow the joint venture to consolidate production at its most efficient plants. The shutdown will remove 6% of INEOS NOVA's PS capacity in North America. The closing is part of the venture's strategy of achieving $50m (€36m) in annual North American synergies. INEOS NOVA is a joint venture formed by INEOS and NOVA Chemicals.
Slaughtered lambs to be used for biodiesel
Skin and fat from lambs slaughtered because they were facing starvation will be used to produce biodiesel, the Scottish Government said last week. The government has launched a plan where farmers will be paid £15 ($31, €22) per animal, which will then go to slaughterhouses for humane slaughter. Only some of the 250,000 lambs facing slaughter, due to a lack of grazing and the onset of winter, will be used in biodiesel.
"Some carcasses will be rendered allowing use of skins and fat for biodiesel and the remainder will be incinerated," it added.
Uralkali to float more shares - report
Uralkali is planning to float 12.5% and potentially 15% of its stock in a secondary share offering on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and in Russia, up from the previously planned 10%, it was reported last week. The company was hoping to raise up to $1bn (€705m) in the offering, up from around $700m as originally planned, a banking source close to the deal told Reuters. Uralkali last week set a price range for its initial public offering (IPO) on the LSE at $2.80-3.50/share.
BASF unveils new units in Freeport, Texas, US
BASF has opened two plants in Freeport, Texas, that make superabsorbent polymers and polyamide 6. The latter has a capacity of 120,000 tonnes/year, with its caprolactam feedstock provided by a nearby BASF plant. "Freeport is now the manufacturing base for BASF's entire polyamide intermediates and polymers business in North America," Harald Lauke, president of BASF's Performance Polymers division, said.
Malaysia port to increase capacity
New tank capacity totaling 400,000 m3 (305,000 yard3) will be built at the Port of Tanjung Langsat in Malaysia's Johor state to store fuel oil, naphtha and middle distillates. Petronas subsidiary MISC will form a joint venture, called Dialog Centralised Tank Facilities (CTF) Sdn, with oil and gas services provider Dialog Group for a tank terminal project.
New survey for textile trade
The European Commission (EC) and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade will jointly survey the export of textiles from China and their import into the European Union (EU) after import quotas on certain textile exports end in December, said EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson last week. The double-checking system will track the issuing of licences for export in China and the importation of goods into the EU over a period of 12 months. "A system of joint monitoring means predictability for EU producers and traders as well as a clear picture of future developments as we make the final step to free global trade in textiles and clothing," said Mandelson.
Sumitomo Singapore opens R&D center
Sumitomo Chemical Singapore (SCS) has opened a research and development (R&D) center, which will partly help advance the expansion of its third-phase methyl methacrylate (MMA) production plant. In the first quarter of 2008, SCS will bring a second MMA polymer plant with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year, followed by the third MMA monomer plant with a capacity of 90,000 tonnes/year.
US court approves rail settlement
A federal judge in North Dakota has given final approval to a $7m (€5m) class action settlement stemming from a deadly anhydrous ammonia chemical railcar spill in January 2002.
The settlement, with Canadian Pacific Railway, was expected to benefit thousands of residents in Minot, North Dakota. A train derailed there, causing a spillage.
Samsung buys stake from BP for $70m
Samsung Group has bought a 47.4% stake in Samsung Petrochemical from BP for about $70m (€50m). Lee Bu-jin, the eldest daughter of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee and Samsung Corp, the group's trading arm, bought a total of 1.88m shares, ending a 30-year partnership with the British energy major. Lee bought a 33.18% stake in the petrochemical affiliate for won (W) 45bn ($49m), while Samsung bought a 14.22% stake for W19.22bn.
Hyflux ties up with BP in bioethanol
Singapore's Hyflux is teaming up with BP and Chinese academics to create technology that will lower the cost of making bioethanol amid a global trend towards environmentally friendlier renewable fuels. The move, if it successfully meets the needs of the biofuel sector, will expand the uses of water treatment firm Hyflux's expertise and open up another revenue base from the world's search for cheaper alternatives to gasoline.
Syngenta prepares to reregister herbicide
Syngenta plans to apply for a new European Union registration for the herbicide paraquat after it was banned by a European court earlier this year. The European Court of First Instance banned it on July 11, saying the European Commission had failed to apply proper procedures when deciding whether to authorize the weed killer in 2003, and had not sufficiently analyzed the effects on human and animal health.
Ferro plans aluminum pastes plant in China
US chemical maker Ferro will start this year construction of an aluminum pastes plant in China to supply southeast Asia's booming solar cell market. The plant at Suzhou, China, is scheduled to start up in the third quarter of 2008, and will include capacities to make products such as silver pastes, surface technology products, multilayer materials, electronic glass and precious-metal powders. Ferro officials did not disclose how much it would invest in the facility and did not detail the capacities.
delay to Iran project
Laleh Petrochemical is expected to start up its 300,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) project at Bandar Imam, Iran, in late November or early December a year later than previously scheduled. The main reason for the latest delay is a problem relating to its compressor, a source said. "We expect the problem to be resolved in the next two months," he added. The start-up is expected to slightly ease the tightness in LDPE markets across all regions, traders said.
H.B. Fuller to exit auto JV with EMS Chemie
H.B. Fuller has agreed to sell its entire stake in an automotive joint venture to its principal partner, Switzerland's EMS Chemie, for $80m (€57m), in order to focus on its core businesses. The US adhesive and paint firm held three manufacturing plants and about 150 employees in the country as part of the venture. The company expects the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, to close by the end of its fourth quarter. Fuller expects to book a one-time positive impact to pre-tax income of $1013m.
Victrex opens PEEK polymer plant in UK
Thermoplastics producer Victrex has opened a 1,450 tonne/year polyetheretherketone (PEEK) polymer plant at its UK site in Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire. The company said it built the plant for £32m ($65m, €46.4m) to support future demand for PEEK products and PEEK-based products. The new plant will increase Victrex's total production capacity to 4,250 tonnes/year.
Israel to issue durable polypropylene bills
Israel's next issue of NIS (New Israeli shekel) 20 bills will be printed on polypropylene (PP) due to the material's durability. The Bank of Israel's annual report shows that currency in circulation rose to NIS 25.5bn ($6.3bn, €4.4bn) at the end of 2006, compared with NIS 24.4bn at the end of 2005.
US housing seen weak into 2008 - Fed official
The US home-construction market will remain weak for several more quarters, said William Poole, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, last week. Recent events suggest that stabilization within the sector may not begin until well into 2008, Poole said. He added: "It is no secret that the downturn in residential real estate activity is more severe than most forecasters expected only a few months ago."
Shalimar Paints to invest in capacity
Shalimar Paints plans to invest about $5m-$8m (€3.5m-$5.7m) to enhance its integrated paints capacity by 12,000 tonnes/year. The company plans to raise its total capacity to 60,000 tonnes/year either by acquiring a company or by building a greenfield plant, CEO Sandeep Sarda said. "We have identified two small paint companies in the southern part of India, out of which we wish to acquire one. However, if that does not materialize, we would set up a greenfield project for this expansion," he added.
Peroxide leak in North Carolina
Authorities evacuated people last week around a plant in Statesville, North Carolina, US, as firefighters worked to clean up a peroxide leak. The Mooresville Fire Department sent 15 personnel from its hazardous materials team to the scene, according to television news station WCNC. The plant, which was not identified by name, manufactures jersey cloth, textiles and other clothing material, according to the news report.
Dainippon Plastics sale to Takiron agreed
Japan's Daicel and Tokuyama have agreed to sell their holdings in molded plastics product maker Dainippon Plastics to Osaka, Japan-based chemicals firm Takiron. Transaction prices for the sales have not been agreed. Takiron and Dainippon Plastics were both pressured by high crude oil-based feedstock costs and weakening demand, Takiron said. The company aims to lift profits through combining the branding power of the two firms on the domestic market, it added. Daicel owns 60% of Dainippon Plastics and Tokuyama a 40% stake.
The list of ICIS's Top 100 global chemical companies in the September 17 issue of ICIS Chemical Business inadvertently left out US-based Westlake Chemical, which recorded $2.48bn in sales in 2006. That would rank Westlake number 98 in our list. We regret the error.
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.
Sample issue >>
My Account/Renew >>
Register for online access >>
|ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies|
|Download the listing here >>|