Top 40 Power Players

03 December 2007 00:00  [Source: ICB]

This is the ICIS ranking of today's most influential figures in chemicals worldwide. Each one over the past year had a hand in significantly shaping our industry. Look out, too, for our "Ones to Watch." You may soon feel these people's impact

If you're not aware of the people featured in this 16-page special feature, then your contact book is not quite up to date. These are the Top 40 Power Players in global chemicals this year. ICIS editors around the world have ranked them in order of their industry influence throughout 2007. We also highlight future power players - the rising stars and the "People to Watch."

We bring to you the "Politicians to Watch" as well. These are the people who stalk the corridors of power across the globe, who have shaped our business for better or worse. And for the first time, we highlight the most powerful consumer chiefs, because ultimately they dictate our strategy, production and direction.

ICIS also asks: "Where are they now?". These are the folks who've been displaced in what we've termed "unplanned outages." And, for the first time, we focus on the Middle East, where we find massively important, but little-known personalities directing this region from the wings.

Some of the people featured in our inaugural Top 40 Power Players list (see ICIS Chemical Business 18 December 2006) have been ranked higher or lower this year. Some have fallen off it altogether, perhaps because their industry impact this year has lessened, their job focus has changed, they've changed roles, or because they've left the chemical industry altogether.

Certainly it is notable that environmentalists, who featured fairly heavily on our 2006 Top 40 Power Players list, have significantly lessened in 2007. Is this because, to some extent, they feel they've met their short-term targets with the implementation of Reach, and now they're waiting for the new legislation to settle before paying us a return visit?

And just as certainly, as global warming and the state of the environment top most political - and therefore business - agendas, we can expect to hear from and see a lot of the greens in the future.

Meanwhile, our 2007 Top 40 Power Players are the people in and around our industry - executives, politicians, association leaders, lobbyists, CEOs of the world's largest consumer outlets - who are leading and molding our business right here, right now. Time to get to know them.

HOW DID ICIS CHOOSE OUR POWER PLAYERS?

The criteria for inclusion in our list were straightforward. Editors nominated likely candidates but had to justify their choice, in writing, against the following three criteria:

1. Has the nominee in the past 12 months made a significant impact on a company, a policy, a regulation or a political decision?

2. Has an individual's actions, drive or vision provided inspiration, or a blueprint for best practice to others, or to our industry as a whole?

3. If an industry outsider, has he or she significantly influenced the way in which the chemical industry performs, or does the nominee have the potential to do so?

In a three-part series of cross-continent conferences, regional editorial department heads debated and argued the list and nominations and voted on the finalists.

THE TOP 40

1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40

1. MOHAMED AL-MADY
Vice chairman and CEO, SABIC

Our leading power player undoubtedly enhanced his status this year with SABIC's $11.6bn (€7.8bn) acquisition of GE'splastics business.

Work is under way on integrating what is the largest US engineering plastics firm with SABIC's European and Asian operations - an organizational achievement virtually unprecedented for a Saudi Arabian business.

As a result, he moves up our list, from last year's second place. "If there is one thing I would like to be remembered for, it's creating the best human resources development plan in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Al-Mady tells ICIS.

This latest move adds nearly 30% to SABIC's annual sales, boosting it from$23bn to $30bn, and takes the previously commodity-oriented producer upmarket into engineering polymers. It also moves SABIC squarely into the US market. Rather than operate GE Plastics as a stand-alone enterprise, it will be technologically integrated with the rest of the company, enabling SABIC to obtain the maximum benefit from its acquired expertise and the lower-cost production facilities it has elsewhere.

SABIC has acquired GE Plastics at a time when US car makers are plagued by low demand. But Al-Mady believes the cyclical nature of the US auto industry and its recovery history suggest the current downturn won't last. "We are very lucky that we bought the company in the twilight of this financial crisis," he says.

Following the earlier acquisitions of DSM and Huntsman's petrochemical businesses in Europe, SABIC has over 30,000 employees worldwide. An important next step is to develop proposed cracker projects in China, which remains a vital location for SABIC.

Sky-high freight costs and the distance of the US from existing facilities in Europe and the Middle East make China the most appealing solution as SABIC seeks logistical inroads to the US. "If the price differential continues to be the same between the US and Europe it may be difficult to [ship] product," Al-Mady says. "But depending on raw material prices and the value of the polymers, it may justify direct shipments in the future."

Meanwhile, projects in the Kingdom remain mostly on track, but Al-Mady says he and others in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East share concerns about the scarcity of manpower, increased material costs, high energy prices and transportation costs. "Contractors are stretched out, so we are very lucky that the delays and the increased costs are still manageable most of our plans will materialize in the second half of next year."

No doubt he will help highlight these and other issues on the world stage. A regular keynote speaker at industry events such as NPRA and EPCA, Al-Mady joined SABIC when it was created in 1976, and became CEO in 1998. He has since presided over a company expansion that now ranks it 10th in the ICIS Top 100 - a listing of chemical producers by sales (see ICIS Chemical Business September 17-23, 2007).

A chemical engineer with a degree from the University of Colorado, US, and a master's from the University of Wyoming, Al-Mady is highly influential in petrochemicals through his role in establishing, and now heading, the newly formed Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).

For the full interview with Al-Mady, see SABIC aims to break into the US plastics market with GE plastics and China strategy

2. LEN BLAVATNIK
Owner and chairman, Access Industries

This US power player is building a global chemical empire with the acquisition of Lyondell Chemical for $19bn (€13.1bn), including the assumption of debt. Blavatnik will merge European polyolefins giant Basell, already owned by Access Industries, and US-based Lyondell into one global company, called LyondellBasell Industries. He bought Basell through Access Industries back in 2005 for €4.4bn ($6.5bn).

The merger will create the worldwide leader in polypropylene (PP), high density polyethylene (HDPE), and low density polyethylene (LDPE), with total sales of $41bn.The combined company will be the world's fifth-largest producer of ethylene and second-largest producer of propylene oxide, with capacities primarily in North America and Western Europe.

Blavatnik had agreed to acquire Huntsman for $9.6bn, but in the end lost out to Hexion Specialty Chemicals, controlled by private equity firm Apollo Management. But there was a parting gift - Blavatnik walked off with a cool $200m for his troubles, as Basell was paid a break-up fee by Huntsman and Hexion. This power player will attempt to close one of the largest acquisitions in the chemical industry, amid a global credit crisis. He is also reportedly targeting BASF's €3.2bn styrenics business, which is for sale.

3. ANTONY LEUNG
Chairman, Blackstone Greater China, and board member of China National Bluestar

The 55-year-old former Hong Kongfinancial secretary was behind the Chinese government's $3bn (€2bn) investment in US private equity firm Blackstone. He also succeeded in buying a 20% stake in China National Bluestar, at a time when acquisitions in state-owned companies stalled in the wake of complaints from some Chinese officials that they were sold too cheaply.

Immediately after the $600m deal, both companies wasted no time in strengthening Bluestar's silicones business with expansion plan announcements. Bluestar's parent, China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), and Blackstone have also recently taken over Australian agrochemical major Nufarm, for $2.8bn.

Leung started his banking career with Citigroup, formerly Citicorp, working as a currency trader. He moved to several international banks before becoming Hong Kong's financial secretary in 2001. He quit in 2003, following a scandal on his purchase of a Lexus, immediately before a car tax hike. He is married to Olympic diving champion Fu Mingxia and has a daughter.

4. JURGEN HAMBRECHT
CEO, BASF

Under Jurgen Hambrecht's leadership, BASF has maintained its position as one of the world's leading chemical companies. Its reputation has been enhanced during 2007 as the company reaps the benefits of canny investments and strong growth in many regions, particularly Asia. Hambrecht's philosophy is to take BASF closer to end-use markets. The acquisition of US catalyst-maker Engelhard last year for $5.6bn (€3.8bn) locks it even more closely with vehicle manufacturers. And buying Degussa's construction chemical business allows it to sell products close to another end-use market. A year on, both divisions perform well, with the company targeting 7-8%/year growth for construction.

5. MICHAEL DOLAN
President, ExxonMobil Chemical

ExxonMobil Chemical (EMC) is one of the world's largest chemical companies, with sales of some $48.9bn/year (€32.9bn/year). Under Dolan's presidency since 2004, EMC pursues global growth, fueled by vertical integration from gigantic parent ExxonMobil, now with $377.6bn revenue in fiscal 2006. "By integrating chemicals into the bigger resource management strategy, we see equally unparalleled opportunity," Dolan told a gathering in late October. EMC is increasing projects for Singapore, China, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and Baytown, Texas. In mid-October, EMC formed a specialty compounds and composites business to develop engineered polyolefin compounds.

6. CHARLES HOLLIDAY
Chairman and CEO, DuPont

Charles Holliday, also known as Chad, has been an outspoken and effective proponent of green chemistry and sustainability. From biofuels to bio-based materials, DuPont has deeply invested itself in sustainable chemistry. On the green front, it has called for legislated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as a member of the US Climate Action Partnership. The company now aims to double its revenues to $8bn (€5.4bn) from nondepletable or renewable resources by 2015. "Sustainability will increasingly become central to the total value proposition," he recently told a Shanghai audience. "This will impact not only our business, but every customer and, through their products, every consumer we touch."

7. JIM RATCLIFFE
Chairman, INEOS

Topping our power players list last year, Jim Ratcliffe joined the elite of the UK's super-rich this year by moving to No. 10 from 45 in The Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £3.3bn ($6.88bn, €4.73bn). He continued his spending spree this year, acquiring Borealis' Norwegian polyolefins activities, Norsk Hydro's engineering polymers and petrochemicals, the rigid PVC film business of Belgium's Solvay and the acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) unit of Germany's Lanxess. He has also extended to North America INEOS's European styrenics joint venture with Canada's NOVA Chemicals, formed after taking over BP subsidiary Innovene in 2005.

8. HANS WIJERS
CEO, Akzo Nobel

The £8bn ($16.7bn, €11.5bn) acquisition of ICI looks like a startlingly clever move by Hans Wijers, despite the protests of some of his shareholders at the price premium offered. The move will catapult the combined company to pole position in the global coatings business, with a market share of 14%. This is way ahead of PPG Coatings/SigmaKalon, which only commands 9%. There is an excellent fit, too, with ICI's strengths in decorative coatings and emerging markets complementing Akzo Nobel's in global industrial coatings. Assuming the transaction is completed, Wijers' next challenge will be managing sensitively the merger with this British institution - without overly upsetting the British.

9. JOSE CARLOS GRUBISICH
CEO, Braskem

The Brazilian polyolefins major continues to lead the reorganization of Brazil's chemical sector and plans international expansion. This year, Jose Carlos Grubisich negotiated the purchase of basic chemical producer Copesul, and signed a $2.9bn (€2.0bn) agreement with Venezuela's state-owned Pequiven to develop a new project in Venezuela. The purchase of Copesul, part of a complex deal involving the acquisition of the Ipiranga group by Braskem, Petrobras and Ultrapar, gives Braskem control of the Triunfo chemicals complex in southern Brazil. Braskem already has a major complex in Camacari, in the northeast of the country.

10. MUKESH AMBANI
Chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries

In the past 12 months, Mukesh Ambani has further consolidated Reliance Industries' position in the global chemical industry. The Indian company is on track to build the world's largest cracker with an innovative feedstock mix and a cost position comparable to the Middle East. At a time when projects worldwide are being delayed, Ambani is ensuring that Reliance's new refinery fires up on time in 2008. He is developing a global footprint, the most recent acquisition being Hualon's polyester assets in Malaysia, which will serve Reliance's strategic export base. Diversification is also on Ambani's agenda, with Reliance's foray into India's retail sector.

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11. HAMAD AL-TERKAIT
President and CEO, Equate Petrochemical Company

Hamad al-Terkait continues to play a key role in the development of the newly formed Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), of which he is vice chairman. At the same time, he is managing the expansion of Equate, the Dow Chemical joint venture in Kuwait with Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC). Equate is building a new cracker and worldscale ethylene glycol unit, as well as expanding polyethylene (PE) and adding ethylbenzene (EB), and styrene to its product slate. Al-Terkait has been with PIC and then Equate for 28 years, and has a degree in business management and marketing from Kuwait University.

12. CRAIG MORRISON
Chairman and CEO, Hexion Specialty Chemicals

Weighing in on our list's 12th position, Craig Morrison will have a busy 2008. This year, he acquired Huntsman for $10.6bn (€7.8bn) in cash, and nearly tripled the size of his company. Already running Hexion, a roll-up of Borden Chemical, Resolution Performance Products and Resolution Specialty Materials by private equity firm Apollo Management, Morrison will gain scale on a whole new level. In July, Hexion beat Basell in a bidding war for Huntsman. And while Morrison has won the prize, he faces antitrust hurdles in epoxy resins to get the deal done. Upon completion, though, Hexion's sales are expected to catapult to around $14bn - up from $5.2bn in 2006.

13. ABDALLAH JUM'AH
President and CEO, Saudi Aramco

Saudi Arabia's national oil company, Saudi Aramco, has burst on to the petrochemical scene under the leadership of Abdallah Jum'ah. It is building a huge refinery and petrochemical complex at Rabigh with Japan's Sumitomo Chemical, and is in talks over a second complex, to involve 30 worldscale plants, at Ras Tanura with Dow Chemical. Jum'ah has been with Aramco since 1968 and was named CEO in 1995. He also serves on the Saudi Arabian Supreme Council of Petroleum and Mineral Affairs. Under his leadership, Aramco has expanded its downstream and gas activities and has been transformed into an integrated international oil and gas producer.

14. JACK GERARD
President and CEO, American Chemistry Council

Since joining the American Chemistry Council (ACC) in March 2005, Jack Gerard has reversed a membership slide by delivering what members asked for: cost-effective advocacy. The association has reduced staffing, rebranded and streamlined its identity, and now takes a sharper message to Capitol Hill. The ACC has also taken its message to the public via its essential2 advertising campaign. "We are confident in our ability to deliver maximum member value and strengthen positive advocacy for our industry," Gerard recently told ICIS. "Companies are focused on bottom-line results and we've had to implement a business ethic here at the ACC."

15. PATRICIA WOERTZ
President and CEO, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)

Named one of the world's most powerful women in 2006 by both Forbes and Fortune magazines, Patricia Woertz continues to flex her industry muscles with the recent formation of ADM's industrial chemical group. ADM, a multinational processor of soybeans, corn, wheat and cocoa into food and feed, is becoming a powerhouse in the renewables sector. Woertz continues to drive the company's entry into the biofuels and renewable products market with capacity expansions in corn-based ethanol and biodiesel, as well as current projects in agriculture-based chemicals and plastics. ADM is also working with ConocoPhillips in the development of next-generation biofuels.

16. PAN YUE
Deputy minister, State Environment and Protection Administration (SEPA)

Pan Yue has been the face of China's environment watchdog in its crusade to clean up the country's pollution, ordering factories to shut down after a spate of accidents and spills in major rivers. As one of the rare officials in China to recognize publicly the severity of China's environmental problems, the 47-year-old former journalist has pushed for public disclosure on pollution matters and heavier punishment for corporate polluters. He has also advocated the adoption of a green GDP figure to take into account environmental damage during the calculation of China's GDP.

17. THORLEIF ENGER
President and CEO, Yara International

These are exciting times for Thorleif Enger, who is leading this Norwegian fertilizer producer through a major restructure. Having acquired the Finnish government's stake in rival Kemira GrowHow back in May, he then launched a full-blown bid for the firm. The deal, approved by the European Commission, could see Yara opening a phosphate mine at Sokli, eastern Lapland province, where Kemira holds mining rights. Strong demand and margin improvement have been headlining Yara's quarterly results, but a decision by the Commission to release 10% of set-aside land in the EU for agriculture should also provide a welcome boost for fertilizer sales.

18. WU YI
Vice premier, China

Dubbed "China's iron lady," Wu Yi is well known as China's top troubleshooter. A tough negotiator, her track record includes handling a health crisis in 2003 after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) negotiating China's way into the World Trade Organization and standing her ground during economic talks with the US refusing to yield on the revaluation of the yuan and China's ballooning trade surplus. Wu was again called to lead a task force on product quality and food safety issues after several toy recalls and food safety problems at the world's third-largest exporter. The furor against Chinese goods died down after Mattel apologized for poor safety designs.

19. WERNER WENNING
Chairman, Bayer

It's been a busy year for Werner Wenning. The acquisition of pharmaceutical firm Schering and the merging of its pharmaceutical business has seen Bayer revise its expected synergy savings to €800m/year ($1.2bn/year). The strong performance of its consumer health business and sales figures make for some good reading. Bayer has also completed several key divestments, most notably the sale of its H.C. Starck subsidiary for €1.2bn in February - helping to slash net debt by around €1bn. Wenning should now have more time on his hands. He's been succeeded by Henkel CEO Ulrich Lehner as president of Germany's chemical industry association, VCI.

20. BRIAN FERGUSON
Chairman and CEO, Eastman Chemical

Brian Ferguson has revitalized the firm, pushing it into specialty chemicals. He aims to revolutionize the process of making commodities such as methanol and ammonia, through the gasification of petroleum coke and coal into syngas. Eastman plans two worldscale gasification facilities, in Texas and Louisiana, US, producing methanol, ammonia, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The two $1.6bn (€1.1bn) projects (Eastman will own 50% and 25% stakes, respectively) will be among the few new commodity chemical facilities built in the US in years, and the only US methanol facilities. Ferguson believes Eastman can compete head-on with the world's lowest-cost producer. Stay tuned.

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21. HIROMASA YONEKURA
President, Sumitomo Chemical

Hiromasa Yonekura is implementing a bold and innovative strategy for Sumitomo Chemical's corporate growth. A major focus is expansion in the feedstock-rich Middle East, through its refinery-cum-petrochemical joint venture with Saudi Aramco, PetroRabigh, scheduled to start up in 2008. This project is expected to raise Sumitomo's earnings incrementally in the longer term. Another significant aspect of the three-year corporate plan is a focus on specialty chemicals, exemplified by Sumitomo's allocation of 70% of its investment to its life science and IT-related materials businesses, where the company has technological strengths and can expect high growth.

22. REN JIANXIN
Chairman, China National Chemical (ChemChina)

Ren Jianxin started China National Bluestar in Lanzhou, southwest China, with just yuan (CNY) 10,000 ($1,344, and seven employees 23 years ago. The company, after its merger with Haohua Chemical, now owns 92 companies and 24 research and design centers. It has made waves in the past two years after acquiring overseas companies, namely Adisseo, Qenos and Rhodia Silicones. Armed with $600m (€405m) cash from selling a 20% stake to Blackstone, Bluestar has set off plans to expand its silicones production - including an investment of up to €10m ($14.8m) to boost its European output - and is now ready to embark on more acquisitions.

23. WILFRED WANG
Chairman, Formosa Petrochemical Corp.

With the start-up this year of Formosa Petrochemical's 1.2m tonne/year cracker - the largest in Asia - Wilfred Wang has taken the region one step closer toward achieving self-sufficiency in olefins. Through its strategy of backward integration, the Taiwanese refinery and cracker operator, which provides feedstocks to group subsidiaries Formosa Plastics, Nan Ya Plastics and Formosa Chemicals & Fiber, has steadily improved its bottom line. A measure of Wang's success is the 41% rise in the company's operating income for the first nine months of 2007, to New Taiwan dollars (NT$) 57.8bn ($1.78bn).

24. GHOLAMHOSSEIN NEJABAT
Managing director, National Petrochemical Company

Appointed late last year, and featured as one of the "Ones to Watch" in 2006's ICIS Chemical Business Top 40, Gholamhossein Nejabat has had the difficult task of reviving Iran's petrochemical investment program. An industry veteran with expertise in project development, most recently as head of Pidemco, he is also Iran's deputy minister for petroleum. This year has seen the start-up of crackers at Marun and Assaluyeh, Iran, and several polyethylene (PE) plants, including Jam Petrochemicals, which also has a cracker close to completion. NPC is now considering investing in methanol and ammonia units in Venezuela as part of a bilateral agreement.

25. ABDALLA EL-BADRI
Secretary general, OPEC

As crude oil hovers near $100/bbl, all eyes turn to OPEC and its responses to the complex issues of oil pricing. Abdalla el-Badri has headed the organization as secretary-general since the start of the year. A Libyan national, he was deputy prime minister of the country from 2002 to 2004, and has twice been chairman of the Libya's National Oil Corp. He also held the posts of petroleum minister and energy minister in the 1990s. Born in 1940, he has a US degree in accounting and business administration. Last month, he called for "transparency and predictability in consuming countries' energy policies," to give oil producers the confidence to invest in new capacity.

26. RAFAEL ESPANOL
Chairman, La Seda de Barcelona (LSB)

Since 2006, Rafael Espanol has implemented an ambitious plan to turn the Spanish polyester producer into an integrated manufacturer and a leader in the European market. Following acquisitions in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and the UK, LSB is now Europe's leading polyethylene terephthalate (PET) manufacturer and No. 3 in purified terephthalic acid (PTA). LSB has also made a number of acquisitions downstream, such as the PET packaging company Amcor. His ambitions have not stopped with a new 700,000 tonne/year PTA unit planned in Portugal, and reports that LSB would like to acquire the European PTA/PET businesses of Eastman and Interquisa.

27. JOSE SERGIO GABRIELLI DE AZEVEDO
President, Petrobras

Brazilian state-owned energy group Petrobras is delivering on its promise to become a more active petrochemical player under Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo's leadership. The group this year purchased Suzano Petroquimica and, together with Braskem and Ultrapar bought the Ipiranga Group. The acquisitions are enabling a major consolidation of petrochemical assets in Brazil, aimed at creating a small number of large-scale producers that can compete internationally. Petrobras is also developing new petrochemical projects, including an $8.4bn (€5.7bn) refinery and petrochemical complex at Itaborai, in Rio de Janeiro state, planned onstream around 2012.

28. CHONG BUM SHICK
CEO, Honam Petrochemical

To ensure Honam Petrochemical's long-term competitiveness, Chong Bum Shick has strategically steered the company to Qatar for a joint venture petrochemical complex. Once the deal is completed, Honam will be the first Korean company with a manufacturing presence in this region. Chong, who has been with Honam for more than 30 years, has played an active role in the restructuring of the Korean industry through acquisitions of KP Chemicals and part of Hyundai Petrochemicals. During his tenure, Honam has experienced organic growth. And with a healthy balance sheet in place, it is well placed to expand further.

29. NEELIE KROES
Competition commissioner, European Commission

Neelie Kroes has hit the headlines for accelerating efforts to rid the chemical industry of cartels, and for taking a firm stance on anticompetitive behavior. To help weed out offenders, a public consultation was launched by the European Commission in October to look at reducing fines for firms that acknowledge their wrongdoings - a move Kroes says will speed up settlements and free up resources. The energy liberalization debate has also continued to dominate her hectic schedule. Kroes remains convinced that improving competition in Europe's energy markets will ensure secure supplies, sustainability and cost-reflective pricing.

30. PRASERT BUNSUMPUN
Chairman, PTT Group

Our 30th power player, Prasert Bunsumpun, deserves credit for his persistent efforts in turning Thailand's premier oil and petrochemical major into a globally competitive company. The merger of Aromatics Thailand Co. (ATC) and Rayong Refinery Co. (RRC) into a new entity, called PTT Aromatics, is a good example of the integration model that Bunsumpun is pursuing to optimize feedstock synergies. A further effort in this direction is the creation of a joint venture between PTT and Japan's Asahi Kasei Chemicals to build an integrated acrylonitrile-methylmethacrylate-polymethylmethacrylate plant in Thailand. This will use a next-generation process based on propane.

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31. DAN SMITH
Chairman, president and CEO, Lyondell

Smith's skillful leadership helped Lyondell score a tasty $19bn (€12.8bn) price, at $48/share, when the company was acquired this summer by Basell. The combined group will have revenues of roughly $41bn in 2007, estimates Bank of America. Smith has been tapped to take the chairmanship position of the merged entity, which has been named LyondellBasell Industries. Lyondell gives Basell considerable upstream integration in a variety of polyolefins and petrochemicals, and the combined company would be the world's fifth-largest producer of ethylene and No. 1 in polypropylene (PP), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and low density polyethylene (LDPE).

32. AXEL CLAUS HEITMANN
CEO, Lanxess

Bright spots this year for Axel Heitmann have been the significant reduction in his company's debt, and the upgrading of its credit rating, as well as the sale of its unprofitable acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) business, Lustran Polymers, to INEOS. Lanxess has also hit its 2009 profit margin target a year earlier than forecast. Last month, Heitmann announced "our strongest third quarter yet," providing a basis for "further sustained growth." But time could be running out. He needs to stump up that much-promised acquisition if he wants to keep shareholders happy. Lanxess has given itself until the end of 2008 to find a suitable target.

33. JOHN McADAM
CEO, ICI

John McAdam has steered ICI through a tough transformation program since he took over the top job in 2003. He is credited with giving the debt-ridden UK group a fresh outlook and driving up value. The sale of oleochemicals and surfactants business Uniqema to Croda, and flavors and fragrances unit Quest to Givaudan, were major steps toward realigning ICI and proceeds were used to reduce debt and ease its huge pension fund liabilities. McAdam admitted to "mixed feelings" about ICI's takeover by Akzo Nobel, which finally agreed in August to pay £8bn ($16.5bn, €11.5bn) after its previous two bids were rejected. Some believe Akzo Nobel can learn a lot from ICI.

34. CHIHIRO KANAGAWA
President, Shin-Etsu Chemical

Chihiro Kanagawa has been a driving force behind the company's global expansion strategy, helping it leapfrog into a leading position in the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) business. In 1960, Shin-Etsu set up CIRES in Portugal, making it the first Japanese chemical company to establish a PVC unit overseas. In 1973, it launched Shintech in the US, gaining a foothold in a key market for PVC resins and compounds. Despite a downturn in the US PVC market, the company posted a 16.7% year-on-year rise in its consolidated operating income for the first half, ended September 30, 2007, at yen (Y) 140bn ($1.22bn) - no mean feat.

35. FRANCOIS VLEUGELS
CEO, Unipetrol

Headhunted by Poland's PKN Orlen oil and petrochemical group after it acquired Czech peer Unipetrol, Francois Vleugels was installed as CEO in 2006. He was charged with modernizing Unipetrol, seen as a mere holding company for disparate chemical and plastics subsidiaries that some analysts even described as "personal fiefdoms." Vleugels is seen as a great catch for Orlen, folllowing a 20-year career at Eastman Chemical and Hexion Specialty Chemicals, where he specialized in integration and supply chain management. He has gained plaudits for his progress at Unipetrol, which has included the divestment of noncore assets and the creation of a more responsive business organization.

36. TALAL AL-SHAIR
Chairman, National Titanium Dioxide (Cristal)

Talal al-Shair has propelled Cristal from No. 9 in the global titanium dioxide (TiO2) market to the No. 2 spot, behind DuPont, with the acquisition of Lyondell's TiO2 business, Millennium Inorganic Chemicals. From a Saudi Arabian producer of 100,000 tonne/year capacity, it can now produce 770,000 tonnes/year of TiO2, with plants also in France, the UK, Brazil, Australia and the US. Tasnee, a diversified Saudi company with chemical operations, has a 66% share in Cristal. Gulf Investment Corp. owns 33%. Al-Shair is also the founder and chairman of Shairco, one ofthe Middle East's largest manufacturers of fiberglass products.

37. HO CHING
Executive director and CEO, Temasek Holdings

Married to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching keeps a low profile and has been developing Temasek Holdings' petrochemical profile in the region by buying a majority stake in Chandra Asri, Indonesia's sole cracker operator, and also in Sichuan Meifeng, a Chinese fertilizer company. Temasek's portfolio crossed the $100bn (€68bn) mark for the first time this year after it grew by 27% to $108bn from the previous year. However, Ho's success was marred by a $3.8bn tax-free takeover of Shin Corp., one of Thailand's biggest telecom companies, which sparked protests that overthrew the country's prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

38. JAI SHROFF
CEO, United Phosphorus

A string of acquisitions has helped India's United Phosphorus emerge as one of the top five generic crop protection chemical companies worldwide. The past two years have been especially busy ones, with Jai Shroff ensuring six successful acquisitions. The most recent was Cerexagri, Arkema's agrochemical unit in February. United Phosphorus has delivered 23% compounded growth in revenues in the past five years and a 30% expansion in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin. The global agrochemical industry has room for further consolidation. Shroff is likely to lead that race.

39. PAT DAVIES
CEO, Sasol

Pat Davies became CEO of Sasol in mid-2005 and has driven the South African company to invest overseas and particularly in the Middle East, attracted by feedstocks for its novel gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies. The firm is just completing a big cracker and derivatives investment in Iran with National Petrochemical Co., known as Arya Sasol. Davies has been with Sasol since 1975 and was responsible for the globalization of its GTL business, including major projects in Nigeria and Qatar. He has also led the company's oil, gas and liquid fuels business, and holds a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Natal.

40. JOSE RICARDO RORIZ COELHO
Copresident, Suzano Petroquimica

Jose Ricardo Roriz Coelho remains a key player in the Brazilian and wider South American chemical sector, even after the purchase of Suzano Petroquimica by Petrobras, thanks to his high-profile roles in various sector associations. He is president of Sao Paulo-based resin producers association Siresp, a vice president of Brazilian chemical association Abiquim and a director of the Latin American petrochemical and chemical association, APLA. Suzano Petroquimica will no longer exist following a takeover by Petrobras, but Roriz Coelho is highly likely to secure another high ranking position in the sector. Watch this space.

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