World news in brief

18 June 2012 00:00  [Source: ICB]

EUROPE

EVONIK OWNERS MAY HALT IPO ON FINANCIAL TURMOIL
RAG-Stiftung said it may halt the planned initial public offering (IPO) of Germany-based specialty chemicals major Evonik because of uncertainties on financial markets. RAG, which holds a majority stake in Evonik, expects to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the IPO this month, it said. Meanwhile, RAG will hold further talks with investors this week, it added. Proceeds from Evonik's IPO will go towards paying for environmental and other costs related to the closure of German coal mines.

KEMIRA, ROCKWOOD JV TO ACQUIRE CRENOX TIO2 UNIT
Kemira and Rockwood Holdings' titanium dioxide (TiO2) specialty pigments joint venture Sachtleben has struck a deal to acquire the TiO2 production assets and inventory of Germany's Crenox from the insolvency administrator in July. The acquisition will boost Sachtleben's TiO2 capacity by more than 100,000 tonnes/year to 340,000 tonnes/year. The insolvency administrator relaunched the unit that forms Crenox, previously part of US-based Tronox, in May 2010.

AZELIS SELLS POLYMERS BUSINESS TO GAZECHIM
European chemicals distributor Azelis has sold its thermoplastic polymers business to France-headquartered Gazechim, in line with its strategy to focus on specialty chemicals and ingredients. Gazechim is looking to complement its presence in thermoplastic and thermoset products, refrigerant and liquefied gases, said Azelis.

LOTTE COMMISSIONS UHDE INVENTA-FISCHER FOR PET
Lotte Chemical UK has commissioned German engineer Uhde Inventa-Fischer to expand its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) operations at Wilton in Northeast England to 350,000 tonnes/year. Uhde Inventa-Fischer will provide basic and detail engineering for a new PET plant, which will have a production capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year.

PP PLANT IN RUSSIA TO START OPERATING IN JULY
Russia's Omsk regional government has pledged to start operation of a new 180,000 tonnes/year polypropylene plant in July, according to a government announcement. The new plant, under the name PolyOm, is expected to start operation next month following regulatory approval from the local government. The project was initially expected on-stream by the end of 2006, but has been subject to severe delays because of financing issues.

ZAT UNVEILS STRATEGY TO FEND OFF ACRON BID
Zaklady Azoty Tarnow (ZAT) has unveiled a 2012-2020 strategy in a move made partly to convince shareholders that a bid for control of the Polish chemical group by Russia's Acron Group is of poor value. The strategy outlined how ZAT - Poland's largest chemical group - is targeting an annual earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margin of more than 8% over the eight-year period and a return on equity of more than 12%.

NOVACYL UNVEILS PROJECT PLAN, SEEKS ACQUISITIONS
French group Novacyl plans to start production at a new methyl salicylate plant in Roussillon, France, in November and is seeking external growth, the company's managing director says. The €9m ($11m), 6,000 tonnes/year plant, will be targeted at pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and flavor markets as well as being produced in technical grades. "Novacyl is active in seeking external growth, especially in Europe and Asia," he said.

AMERICAS

US TO BE BIGGER EXPORTER IF ALL CRACKERS GET BUILT
The US will become an even larger exporter of plastics and other chemical products if all of the recently announced cracker projects get built, according to the chief executive of Chevron Phillips Chemical. "Fifteen to 20% of the ethylene derivatives produced in this country are exported," Peter Cella said. US demand will eventually grow to need three or four worldscale ethane crackers: "If more than that gets built, we would expect the US becomes a more significant export platform," he said. Primary export markets will continue to be Asia and South America.

PHILLIPS 66 HAS NO PLANS FOR MORE GULF PROJECTS
Phillips 66 has no immediate plans to develop more petrochemical plants to the US Gulf beyond what has already been announced, a company spokesperson says. The Financial Times reported that the US refiner and chemicals producer was considering investing in a second large new plant in the US Gulf coast region to benefit from shale reserves. ChevronPhillips Chemical, a joint venture between Phillips 66 and Chevron, has already announced cracker plans.

CERADIS AND GTM SIGN DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT
Dutch group Ceradis and global distributor GTM (Grupo Transmerquim) have signed a deal for the distribution of specialty banana fertilizer MusaCare for Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Panama and Nicargua. GTM will market and distribute the MusaCare, which has been developed by Ceradis.

ASIA

FCFC TO IDLE PTA NO 2 UNIT ON POOR MARGINS
Taiwan's Formosa Chemical and Fibres Corp (FCFC) will shut its 400,000 tonne/year No 2 purified terephthalic acid (PTA) facility at Loongder for a month from June 15 because of poor margins, a source close to the company said. "Margins are bad, we have to shut the unit," the source said. Asian PTA producers have been incurring losses since end-October 2011 because of soaring costs of feedstock paraxylene (PX), according to ICIS data.

CHINA'S PP, PE CAPACITY TO RISE BY END-2012
China's production capacity of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) is predicted to rise by 1.35m tonnes/year and 890,000 tonnes/year respectively by the end of 2012 following expansions and start-ups, according to company sources. PE capacity will rise to 11.95m tonnes/year by the end of December 2012 from December 2011. Capacity expansions are mainly for linear low density PE (LLDPE) and high-density PE (HDPE).

SAMSUNG PETCHEM MULLS 30-40% CUT IN JULY PTA
South Korea's Samsung Petrochemical plans to cut its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production by 30-40% in July because of unfavorable market conditions, a company source said. "We have set a target of an overall 20% production cutback in June," said the source. Shutdown schedules at its PTA facilities - three in Ulsan and one in Daesan - for next month are still being firmed up, the source said.

CHINA'S VEHICLE SALES IN MAY RISE 16% YEAR ON YEAR
China sold 1.61m units of vehicles in May, up by 16.0% year on year but down by 1.1% from April, official industry data showed over the weekend. The country's vehicle production in May totaled 1.57m units, representing a 16.2% increase compared with the same period last year, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. However, on a month-on-month basis, vehicle production declined by 4.7% last month, the association said.

AKZONOBEL COMPLETES SPLIT FROM ICI PAKISTAN
Dutch producer AkzoNobel has completed its split from ICI Pakistan and started a formal sale to divest its 75.81% stake in the company. AkzoNobel Pakistan, now established as a separate legal entity from ICI Pakistan, will focus on three core areas: decorative paints; performance coatings; and specialty chemicals. ICI Pakistan's business now comprises polyester fiber, soda ash, life sciences and chemicals.

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA

US TRONOX TO CLOSE EXXARO ACQUISITION
US titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer Tronox has received the final approvals from the South African government to complete its acquisition of the mineral sands business of Exxaro Resources. The deal will close on June 15, and Tronox will then list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange on June 18. The Exxaro acquisition makes Tronox the "largest vertically integrated company in the sector," said Bud Grebey, vice president of corporate communications for Tronox.

JACOBS WINS WORK FOR SAUDI SADARA PE PROJECT
US-based petrochemical engineering firm Jacobs has won a contract to work on three polyethylene (PE) trains planned by Sadara Chemical in Saudi Arabia. The first production units are expected to come on line in the second half of 2015, with all the site's units planned to be up and running in 2016. Sadara is a joint venture between Dow Chemical and Saudi Aramco.


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