31 May 2010 00:20 [Source: ICB]
BASF TAKEOVER IS A POSSIBILITY, SAYS COGNIS
German specialty chemical firm Cognis has not ruled out a possible takeover as it looks at strategic options for the future, following news reports that German chemical major BASF had made a bid for the group. Last Tuesday, Financial Times Deutschland reported that BASF had submitted a takeover offer, and Goldman Sachs and Permira, which advise a group of private equity firms that own Cognis, were evaluating a bid. "It is not new for us, being a private equity-owned company. Our investors are looking at strategic options, which means there could be a possible selling to another strategic investor or there could be an IPO [initial public offering]," Cognis spokeswoman Susanne Sengel said.
NEW MOUNTAIN TO SEEK FURTHER CHEMICAL DEALS
US-based private equity firm New Mountain Capital will seek further chemical acquisitions after striking a deal to buy US specialty chemical firm Mallinckrodt Baker from Covidien for $280m (€227m), senior advisor and former Rohm and Haas CEO Raj Gupta said. "We will look for additional acquisition opportunities in the chemical space - both to add to this business, as well as new deals, but we're going to be selective as we look for defensive growth businesses," said Gupta.
CROATIA'S DIOKI PAYS HALF ITS FEEDSTOCK BILL
Croatian polyethylene producer Dioki Group has paid nearly half an overdue gas and ethane bill of kuna (HRK) 120m ($20.3m, €16.5m), alleviating fears that supplier INA would this week cut off deliveries of the feedstocks. A payment of HRK50m had been wired to Croatian group INA while both parties have committed to discuss the approach to the remainder of the debt and hammer out conditions for a new gas delivery contract, Dioki added.
LANXESS INVESTS $10M IN BIOCHEMICAL FIRM GEVO
German synthetic rubber producer LANXESS has invested $10m (€8.1m) in US biofuel and biochemical company Gevo as part of a planned cooperation to produce isobutene from renewable resources. The companies aim to find an alternative route to source isobutene - a key raw material needed in the manufacturing of butyl rubber. "This investment and the proposed cooperation broaden our future supply options against the background of volatile raw material prices and consolidation within the petrochemical industry," said LANXESS CEO Axel Heitmann.
ROMANIA TO SELL 11.84% STATKE IN PETROM
Romania's government will sell an 11.84% stake in oil and chemical group Petrom in order to raise at least €400m ($493.8m). The government, which holds a 20.6% stake in Petrom, is expected to sell part of its share in the coming months through a sale on either the Bucharest Stock Exchange, on international bourses or through an auction.
VOPAK TO BUILD STORAGE TERMINAL IN CHINA
Dutch logistics and storage firm Vopak will start the construction of a storage terminal for chemicals and clean petroleum products in Dongguan, China's Guangdong province, with local business partner Lanwa Group. The first phase of construction on the facility, which will be located on Lisha Island and have an initial storage capacity of 153,000 cubic meters, is expected to be commissioned in the third quarter of 2011. The storage terminal will have a maximum future storage capacity of 400,000 cubic meters.
NESTE OIL TO START UP BIODIESEL PLANT
Finland's Neste Oil is on schedule to bring on stream the world's largest renewable diesel plant in Singapore late this year. The 800,000 tonne/year plant will use the company's proprietary technology called NExBTL to produce biodiesel without the by-product glycerin. Construction at the plant is 90% complete, with commissioning activities under way.
TIANJIN SODA TO START ACETIC ACID UNIT IN Q3
China's Tianjin Soda plans to start up a new 200,000 tonne/year acetic acid plant in Tianjin, in either August or September. "We are on schedule to ignite the coal gasification process in mid-June, and if everything is normal, the acetic acid plant will be started up in August or September," a company official said. The producer is focusing on supplying to the domestic markets in Beijing and Tianjin, Hebei province. The firm also trades about 100 to 200 tonnes per month of the product in drums, which is exported mostly to North and South America.
LYONDELLBASELL POSTS $10M Q1 NET PROFIT
Netherlands-based petrochemical major LyondellBasell recorded a net profit of $10m (€8.1m) in the first quarter (Q1), compared with a loss of $1bn in the year-ago period, while revenues rose by 65% to $9.75bn. Q1 operating income was $367m, compared with a loss of $141m in the year-ago period.
DOW PLANS TO START UP THAILAND HPPO IN 2011
US-based producer Dow Chemical expects to start up its 390,000 tonne/year hydrogen peroxide to propylene oxide (HPPO) plant at Mab Ta Phut, Thailand, in December 2011. Construction of the plant is due to be completed in November 2011 and commercial production is expected in January 2012, said a company source on the sidelines of the PU China 2010 conference in Shenzen. The HPPO facility is a joint venture with Siam Cement, but Dow will control both manufacturing and commercial sales of PO, he said.
RHODIA TO CLOSE ACETATE TOW FILTER PLANT
French specialty chemical firm Rhodia will close its acetate tow filter manufacturing plant in Valencia, Venezuela, as part of a wider cost-cutting program. The closure of the facility, which employs about 120 people, will be fully effective by the end of 2010. The company's cellulose acetate fiber unit, Rhodia Acetow, said it would continue delivering to its customers through filter tow plants in Germany, Russia and Brazil.
THAI CAPROLACTAM SUFFERS SHUTDOWN
Thai Caprolactam's 110,000 tonne/year caprolactam (capro) plant in Rayong, suffered an unexpected shutdown on May 25 due to power failure. "We are still monitoring the situation. We are not sure when we can restart," the source said last Wednesday. Thai Caprolactam, a subsidiary of Japan's Ube Industries, sells 50% of its capro to domestic buyers and exports the rest to countries across Asia.
CHEMTURA TO FILE FOR REORGANIZATION IN JUNE
US specialty chemical firm Chemtura plans to file for reorganization on June 17 in order to emerge from bankruptcy. "Our intent is to emerge from Chapter 11 [bankruptcy protection] as quickly and efficiently as possible," said CEO Craig Rogerson. Chemtura is in talks with its unsecured creditors committee and an equity committee to reach a reorganization plan.
WILMAR DENIES TAX FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
Wilmar International, the world's biggest palm oil producer, has denied media reports that it had colluded with tax officials to obtain fraudulent tax refunds for its operations in Indonesia. Wilmar, which has a market value of around $30bn (€24.5bn), said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange that the reports are "untrue and unsubstantiated" and that its Indonesian units have at all times been in "full compliance with all relevant Indonesian value-added-tax laws."
CHINA'S OIL, PETCHEM TRADE DEFICIT TO EXPAND
China's petroleum and petrochemical trade deficit is expected to expand in the coming years due to unfavorable global economic conditions and its rising demand for oil products, according to Bai Xuesong, an analyst at the China National Petroleum and Chemical Planning Institute (NPCPI), a state-owned agency that provides petroleum and chemical consulting services. "The trade deficit in these sectors was smaller last year, but we expect it to expand further in future," he added. China registered a $129bn (€105bn) deficit in petroleum and petrochemical trade last year - 21.1% lower than the previous year.
SOLVAY INVESTS FURTHER IN FUEL CELL TECHNOLOGY
Belgium-based chemical group Solvay has upped its investment in fuel cell technology by increasing its stake in UK developer ACAL Energy for £1.5m ($2.2m, €1.7m). "Solvay expects fuel cells to quickly become one of the new important energy conversion technologies," said Leopold Demiddeleer, executive vice president of future businesses.
US TAKES OVER POLLUTION PERMIT IN TEXAS
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken control of a Texas refinery air pollution permit in a move that could have implications for the state's chemical producers. In a letter sent to refiner and chemical producer Flint Hills Resources last Tuesday, the EPA said it began to take over jurisdiction of an emissions permitting process from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The EPA said the action came as a result of the TCEQ's inability to submit a proposal addressing what the EPA considered violations of the Clean Air Act.
NABALTEC TO BUILD FLAME RETARDANTS PLANT
German specialty chemical and materials company Nabaltec plans to build a boehmites flame retardants facility this year at its site in Schwandorf, Bavaria. The company did not disclose specific volume or financial details, but said the investment was in the "low single-digit euro millions."
CHEMICAL INDUSTRY RESTOCKING TO SPEED UP
Moody's Investors Service has forecast that growth and restocking in the European and North American chemical industry will accelerate over the next 12-18 months. "As the economy continues to improve, earnings will improve as volumes rebound and companies are able to raise prices for their products to maintain their margins. In addition, corporate balance sheets are stronger and access to liquidity is no longer a primary concern," said James Wilkins, a vice president-senior analyst at Moody's.
CIECH TO SELL AGCHEM, SILICATES & GLASS UNITS
Poland's largest chemical maker, Ciech, has drawn up a plan to dispose of two of its four divisions - fertilizer and other assets from its agrochemical division, and its silicates and glass unit. Ciech will retain its largest divisions, soda ash and organic chemicals, which generate around 70-80% of revenues.
CHEMICAL ORDERS RISE IN MARCH - EUROSTAT
EU chemical orders in March increased by 3.1% compared with February, according to figures from statistical office Eurostat last week. Total industrial orders across the 27 EU member states in March increased by 5.9% month on month, with the highest increases registered in Denmark (+20.6%), Estonia (+12.3%) and Greece (+11.7%). Year on year, March chemical orders in the EU27 shot up by 21.1%.
TATA CHEMICALS TO RAISE RS4BN FOR EXPANSION
India's Tata Chemicals plans to raise about Indian rupees (Rs) 4bn ($85.16m) in fiscal 2011 to fund a fertilizer capacity expansion program. The funds, which will be raised through an issue of preferential shares to parent company Tata Sons, will be mainly used to double the company's urea facility at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh state.
SINGAPORE TO BUILD FIRST LPG TERMINAL UPGRADE
Plans for Singapore's first liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) terminal are currently being studied under a new government-led upgrade plan for the country's chemical hub at Jurong Island. When completed, the LPG terminal is likely to import gas feedstock to supplement naphtha being used by petrochemical crackers on the island. The terminal is part of the recently announced "Jurong Island version 2.0" initiative to boost the competitiveness of the city-state's petrochemical industry.
HONEYWELL AND DUPONT JOIN IN REFRIGERANT JV
Honeywell and DuPont have entered into a joint venture (JV)to produce a refrigerant for use in automotive air conditioning systems, HFO-1234yf. The companies will share financial and technological resources, with the intent to jointly design, construct and operate a worldscale manufacturing facility. Terms were not disclosed.
PU POTENTIAL SPOTTED IN CHINA'S CONSTRUCTION
Bayer MaterialScience sees huge potential for polyurethane (PU) foam in China's construction sector. Worldwide, 40% of new construction is in China, said Peter Vanacker, head of PU business for Bayer MaterialScience. "In more matured countries, the per capita usage of PU is 60kg, and even higher, but it is only a couple of kg in China."
CHAVEZ CANCELS 46% PLASTIC RESIN PRICE HIKE
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez overturned a 46% price increase for all plastic resins implemented by state-owned petrochemical company Pequiven in April. Chavez said he had not been consulted on the increase and ordered the immediate dismissal of the vice minister of petrochemicals, Clark Inciarte, who is also president of Pequiven. He also ordered that buyers who bought product with the April increase be refunded.
CHINA SEES SALES SURGE IN OIL AND CHEMICALS
China's sales of petroleum and chemical products in April have increased by 42% year on year, to yuan (CNY) 716.2bn ($104.9bn) on a rise in output, said the China Petroleum & Chemical Industry Federation. In April, revenue in the refining segment soared by 61.7% year on year to CNY202.04bn, while sales in the petroleum and natural gas extraction segment saw a 56.7% rise to CNY78.16bn. Sales of chemicals increased by 33.3% to CNY421.05bn.
CHEMTURA OPENS TECH CENTER IN CHINA
US specialty chemical producer Chemtura has opened an application development center in Nanjing, China, to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The center will serve Chemtura's business units in the region, including AgroSolutions, antioxidant/ultraviolet stabilizers, flame retardants, petroleum additives and urethanes.
ASHLAND TO DISTRIBUTE CEREPLAST BIOPLASTICS
Ashland Distribution will distribute US-based Cereplast's bioplastics to converters and producers in North America. The products include Cereplast Compostables and Cereplast Hybrids Resins.
SINOCHEM TO START UP FUJIAN REFINERY IN 2013
China's Sinochem expects to bring on stream a 12m tonne/year refinery in Quanzhou in China's southern Fujian province by 2013. A Sinochem source said it had not been decided yet whether a cracker would be installed downstream of the refinery. A 200,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) unit by the same company is currently under construction at the same site and is scheduled to start up in 2011.
DSM PLANS €1.5BN SALES TARGET FROM INNOVATION
DSM plans to set ambitious targets to boost revenues and profits from innovation, said the company's chief innovation officer Rob van Leen. The Dutch chemical and life sciences group wants to raise revenues from innovative products and applications by 50% to €1.5bn ($1.9bn) for the five years to 2015 and introduce an innovation profit margin target.
DEMAND FOR US GULF BASIC CHEMICALS RISES
US Gulf coast chemical production in April rose by 0.7% from March as basic chemicals demand increased, said the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The US Gulf coast region - dominated by building block materials such as petrochemicals, inorganics and synthetic materials - also gained 0.8% in March. However, overall US production slipped by 0.1% in April from March as gains in basic chemicals, inorganics, bulk petrochemicals, organic intermediates and coatings were partially offset by production declines in industrial gases, artificial fibers, synthetic rubber and adhesives.
ZCHP BREAKS WITH UNION; LOOKS TO CUT WORKFORCE
The management of Polish fertilizer producer Zaklady Chemiczne Police (ZChP) has terminated its collective bargaining agreement with its labor unions in order to push ahead with restructuring plans to revive the financially troubled firm. ZChP needs to shrink its current workforce of 2,925 to 2,350 by 2014, and to adjust its hiring practices and pay structure if it is to become profitable again, the management board said.
JAPAN PVC UP BY 9.4% ON DOMESTIC DEMAND
Japan's production of poly vinyl chloride (PVC) rose by 9.4% year on year in April to 138,458 tonnes, according to data from the Vinyl Environmental Council (VEC). However, the total remained low compared with the 145,000 tonnes produced in April 2008. Production of vinyl chloride monomer, a feedstock of PVC, decreased by 4.2% to 251,643 tonnes in April from the year-earlier period, owing to decreased demand for exports.
SHOWA DENKO TO CLOSE TOKUYAMA ETAC BY JULY
Japan's Showa Denko plans to close down its 150,000 tonnes/year ethyl acetate (etac) plant in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi prefecture, by late June. Imports have surged, and the cost of imported etac was lower to that of the domestic product, a company source explained.
AZELIS PLANS TO FILE FOR IPO IN 2012
European speciality chemical distributor Azelis is considering an initial public offering (IPO) for 2012. Currently, private equity owner 3i holds 67% of the company, which realized a 2008 turnover of €1.12m ($1.41m).
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