Solvay JV is a good fit, says Sibur

26 October 2012 08:50  [Source: ICB]

Ruspav, the newly created surfactants joint venture between Belgian chemicals group Solvay and SIBUR, fits well with the Russian company's growth strategy, its CEO says.

Konov Butstraen JV

SIBUR's Konov (left) and Novecare's Butstraen sign the JV

The joint venture aims to take advantage of fast-growing Russian markets serving personal care and oilfield process chemicals through the construction of a world scale surfactants plant in Dzerzhinsk, 400km (249 miles) east of Moscow, by 2015.

SIBUR CEO Dmitry Konov said that the surfactants business would fit well into its plastics and organic synthesis business, which is driven by research and development (R&D) and customer demand. Demand for surfactants, which are primarily used in homecare and agricultural products and in the oil and gas industry, is currently growing by 6% per year, according to SIBUR.

SOLVAY R&D INPUT

"This division is more R&D-driven and responds to consumer market trends," Konov said. "With this business we have the choice to either develop the portfolio by ourselves or with a business partner. Solvay is going to provide a lot of the R&D and marketing side of this business."

He said SIBUR does not have ambitions to enter the surfactants market as a separate player and is likely to bring its feedstock sources and market expertise to the joint venture to combine with Solvay's technologies and customer base.

Konov said the plant would be targeted at Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and could later become "world-scale", dependent on distribution agreements between the parties. He declined to give any further details about the project's investment costs, capacity or timetable.

But he revealed that SIBUR would provide its market experience, as well as feedstocks for the plant under a long-term contract for the supply of ethylene oxide (EO).

Emmanuel Butstraen, president of Solvay's Novecare unit, said: "After the signing we can go officially to discuss the project with our key global accounts. How they wish to participate in the project will define the design of the plant and the amount of investment. We want to create a leader in the Russian surfactant industry."

He revealed that SIBUR andNovecare officials have been working on the project for two years, adding: "It took over two years to build a strong partnership to allow us to take a leading position in the Russian surfactant market."

In September the site passed an environmental assessment to demonstrate it meets all relevant Russian and international environmental standards. SIBUR and Solvay completed the project's study phase in April 2012.

SIBUR is working with Solvay to build Russia's largest integrated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant through their JV, RusVinyl.

SIBUR IPO PLANS

Meanwhile, asked for an update on SIBUR's plans for an initial public offering (IPO), Konov said: "It is up to the shareholders to make a final decision. The company structure is ready for an IPO. Our main shareholder, Leonid Mikhelson, has a strong belief in the public markets. I will be happy to see an IPO next year, but it is up to the shareholders."

Through a separate holding company, Russian entrepreneur Leonid Mikhelson has a 57.5% stake in SIBUR, while energy trader Gennady Timchenko, co-owner of Gunvor trading house, owns 37.5% of the company.

Q2 PROFITS DIVE

SIBUR's second-quarter net profit fell to roubles (Rb) 8.5bn ($273.8m, €211.8m) from Rb15.8bn last year, with profitability having been affected by declining spreads between feedstock and product prices. Revenue edged up to Rb65.3bn from Rb62.1bn.

The company said economic conditions in Russia and globally had affected its operations. In the second quarter, GDP growth decelerated from 4.9% to 4.0% on the back of oil price volatility and eurozone uncertainty.

In the first half of 2012 the domestic market accounted for 53.1% of total revenues, with 46.9% attributable to exports.

SIBUR buys associated petroleum gas and liquid hydrocarbons and processes them into liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas and naphtha, as well as petrochemicals. The company sells to around 1,500 customers in sectors such as energy, automotive, construction and retail in 60 countries.


By: Will Beacham
+44 20 8652 3214



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