19 September 2011 00:00 [Source: ICB]
The regional breakdown of our Top 100 chemical firms shows a renewed confidence among some major players, with many posting double-digit growth. Sales and profitability have surged; the strong performance in 2010 helped to dampen memories of one of the worst downturns in history.
Emerging markets continue to display huge potential whereas the more established regions were boosted by strong supply and demand fundamentals. Mergers and acquisitions have become more prevalent, particularly for specialty chemical firms. Big deals are emerging, with 2011 tipped to be a "record year for transactions."
US operations have been fueled by the race to tap into shale gas reserves and numerous projects are underway, marking a new era for the region. Europe, too, is seeing increased investment locally, with companies also keeping a keen eye on China and the Middle East.
Higher pricing, improved demand and additional capacities have buoyed these markets and helped their recovery. Latin America also retains a positive outlook, despite growth slowing this year.
Each of the key regions has enjoyed a strong recovery from the demand slump in 2009. Higher prices and margins have helped; the question remains whether this can be sustained.
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