InterviewNew US Univar CEO to sharpen focus on emerging markets

22 June 2012 21:51  [Source: ICIS news]

By Joseph Chang

NEW YORK (ICIS)--The new CEO of US-based chemical distributor Univar will sharpen the company’s focus on building its presence in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, he said on Friday.

“We are a global resource for customers and a route to market for supplier partners. That means increasing capabilities in emerging markets such as China, other parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa,” said Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Univar.

Univar will also continue to expand its distribution capabilities in its core markets of the US, Canada and Europe, he added.

Fyrwald sees growth opportunities in a number of product areas, including food and beverage ingredients, pharmaceutical ingredients and oil and gas chemicals.

“We are a full-range distributor serving verticals in both commodities and specialties,” Fyrwald said.

Univar aims to build on its acquisition of Brazil-based chemical distributor Arinos Quimica in September 2011.

Arinos ranked 69th in the ICIS Top 100 Chemical Distributors listing with $115.8m (€92.6m) in sales in 2010. Products sold range from pigments to aromatic solvents to acrylates, surfactants and specialty coatings and additives.

It is Brazil’s sixth largest distributor, focusing on southeast Brazil, noted Univar in November 2011.

“Arinos was an important acquisition to give us a base capability in a number of verticals in Brazil, where we were not well positioned,” said Fyrwald.

“We will build on this business organically, and over time, through M&A [mergers and acquisitions],” he added.

Important end markets in Brazil, which Univar will aim to serve, include mining, personal care and oil and gas.

“We can bring existing products through the Arinos network in Latin America and also build supplier relationships in the region to bring products elsewhere. This is a critical market and a significant opportunity,” said Fyrwald.

Strengthening distribution capabilities in China is also a priority.

“The opportunity for global distribution companies to play more strongly in China and Asia is great,” noted the CEO.

“We have a position in Asia and will step up organic activities, but we may look to M&A [mergers and acquisitions] to increase scale,” he added.

Fyrwald sees the global economy as challenging and “getting more challenging”.

Europe will continue to be challenged, while US growth has slowed and will likely continue to slow in the coming quarters, Fyrwald noted.

“We are not assuming any economic tailwinds in the coming quarters. We must therefore earn growth,” he said.

Fyrwald, the former president of US-based institutional cleaning chemicals and services firm Ecolab, started his role with Univar on 7 May. He served as chairman and CEO of US-based water treatment chemicals company Nalco prior to its acquisition by Ecolab.

($1 = €0.80)

By: Joseph Chang
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