Top 10 chemical companies in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia

17 September 2010 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Our breakdown shows just how badly companies have been hit by the global economic downturn

Welcome to the second part of the ICIS Top 100 listing where we focus on emerging markets. Few chemical companies were immune from the worst economic crisis in a generation. Indeed, many regional players were hit particularly hard in 2009, as domestic demand collapsed and export markets faltered.

For full footnotes plus extra financial information such as capital expenditure see the main ICIS Top 100 listing



All the chemical companies surveyed for this year's Regional Top 10 Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Russian listing have been hit hard by the downturn, with sales declining and profits dipping or plunging deeper into the red.

Recovery was faltering in this region during 2009. Many economies were left exposed as previous growth had been based on an era of cheap credit.

International banks, which got their fingers burned during the crisis, withdrew hurriedly, bringing funding to a halt for major construction projects that were not state-supported.

The situation is now slowly improving and 2010's results should be considerably better for most players. As the table (right) shows, all economies except for Poland's suffered a severe contraction in GDP during 2009. Forecasts for this year and next show a moderate return to growth. Export markets have also recovered strongly.

Poland's relative success story has been attributed to its banking sector behaving conservatively and showing more restraint in the run-up to the crisis. This left it in better shape and with Poland's economy less overheated than those of its peers.

Russia's SIBUR still tops the list, and with good reason. Led by 40-year-old Dmitry Konov, the group is in real expansion mode, both organically and through acquisition. However, the same cannot be said for others on the list.

SIBUR has a slate of projects under construction and due to come on stream between now and 2014. Beyond that, there are ambitious plans to further exploit Russia's abundant gas feedstock reserves through the construction of a 1m tonne/year pyrolysis gas (pygas) cracker at Tobolsk.

Located in Western Siberia, this location is seen as a compromise between proximity to feedstocks and markets.

A final decision will be made toward the end of next year on this project, with start-up scheduled for 2015-2016.

Early in September, SIBUR agreed to acquire a 32% stake in NOVATEK-Polimer, a producer of plastic products made from polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE).

In December 2009, Sibur acquired a 50% interest in Biaxplen, a local producer of biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), and was reported to be negotiating the acquisition of the remaining 50% stake. Biaxplen has BOPP facilities in three Russian regions, with a capacity of 87,000 tonnes/year.

Konov also has his sights on petrochemicals and rubber company Nizhnekamskneftekhim and chemical group Kazanorgsintez, should they become available.

Hungary's BorsodChem is missing from this year's listing. Permira, its private equity owner, has become shy about revealing financial information.

This could mean the group's revenues have fallen significantly from 2008's $2.44bn (€1.90bn).

A deal to transfer ownership to China's Wanhua Industrial Group is progressing, with the group expected to boost ownership from 38% to 100% within months.

The combined group takes third place among the world's isocyanate producers.

Wanhua has agreed to inject €140m into BorsodChem, an investment that will largely be spent on completing a delayed 200,000 tonne/year toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant (scheduled for completion in the first half of 2011) and a nitric acid facility at its main site in Kazincbarcika, Hungary.

By: Will Beacham
+44 20 8652 3214

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