Top 10 chemical companies in Asia

17 September 2010 17:46  [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



Asian chemical companies recovered swiftly from the 2008 economic crisis, with all the Top 10 players moving up on the global rankings table (see last week's issue).

China's Sinopec retained its position as Asia's largest chemical firm and climbed up four places to emerge as the world's fourth-largest chemical company.

The state-owned firm is well placed to rise further as it has a string of new projects to complete over the next few years. Sinopec is expected to bring on stream nearly 2.45m tonnes/year of cracking capacity in the next four years.

South Korea's Honam Petrochemical made a dramatic entry to the global Top 100 list after nearly doubling its sales in 2009 following the merger of subsidiary Lotte Daesan Petrochemical. It ­became Asia's seventh-largest chemical company.

Honam's ambition is to become a "top-tier Asian chemicals company" with sales of Won 40 trillion ($33.96bn) by 2018. Its recent ­acquisition of Malaysia's Titan Petrochemicals Group was a step in this direction. And it plans more acquisitions in the region besides expanding capacities in South Korea. It is also participating in a cracker project in Uzbekistan.

The commissioning of a new polypropylene (PP) plant as part of its second refinery project helped Reliance Industries boost sales by 20% last year and rise to No. 20 in the global rankings chart. The Indian major, which failed to acquire Netherlands-based LyondellBasell Industries, has embarked on an aggressive expansion program, which includes the construction of a new cracker and some derivative plants at Jamnagar on the west coast of India.

The two Taiwanese firms on the list, Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp. and Formosa Plastics Corp, saw sales decline last year but remained on the Asian Top 10 list. They are concentrating on building their presence in China and Vietnam as they face constraints in expanding their base in Taiwan, where a strong environmental lobby has opposed new chemical investments.

Malaysia's PETRONAS, ranked ninth, also saw sales decline last year. But its position should improve as the state oil major has renewed its focus on downstream activities. It decided in July to spin off its petrochemicals business and list it on the Malaysian stock exchange by the end of 2010. And in September it agreed to acquire BP's stakes in Ethylene Malaysia and Polyethylene Malaysia, further consolidating its position as the country's largest chemicals player.

Thai player Cementhai Chemicals (SCG Chemicals) slipped one spot to emerge as the 10th-largest Asian chemicals firm and PTT Chem continued to "bubble under" the Top 10. But the two are poised to report higher sales next year once their new projects are fully operational. These projects were affected by the Mab Ta Phut crisis, which was recently resolved by the Thai government.

By: Malini Hariharan
+65 6780 4359

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