UpdateEastman to finish PET review by year-end, may exit market

23 April 2010 14:58  [Source: ICIS news]

(updates throughout with comments from Eastman chief executive Jim Rogers)

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Eastman Chemical expects to complete a strategic review of its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) business by the end of the year, but it is under no pressure to sell the business, chief executive Jim Rogers said on Friday.

The company said earlier on Friday it would “review strategic options” for the PET business, including a possible divestiture.

“We don’t feel there is a clock ticking against us… we are going to do the best deal possible for Eastman,” Rogers said in response to analysts’ questions during Eastman’s first-quarter results conference call, said.

“We will see what the best alternative is for Eastman, whether we exit the business, sell the business, or what other alternative might be out there,” he said.

Eastman had taken "no-regrets actions" to improve the performance of its PET operations and felt it was now time to determine whether or not it was "the highest-invest owner" of this business, he said.

Eastman is described as one of the largest producers of PET in the US. The company’s PET plant in South Carolina has a capacity of 525,000 tonnes/year.

As for the first quarter, sales of Eastman’s performance polymer business, which includes PET, rose 22% to $194m (€146m), up from $159m in the 2009 first quarter. 

Eastman credited higher selling prices as well as higher sales volumes due to improved operations at the South Carolina PET facility.

Rogers also said Eastman expected to close its acquisition of specialty chemicals producers Genovique by the end of April.

Going forward, Eastman saw more merger and acquisition opportunities, he said.

Eastman would “like to do something a bit bigger than [Genovique], that means a few hundred million dollars,” Rogers added without disclosing specific targets.

($1 = €0.75)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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