Corrected: ICIS Top 40 Power Players: Dow CEO Andrew Liveris takes top spot for 2012

Source: ECN


Correction: In the ICIS story headlined: "ICIS Top 40 Power Players: Dow CEO Andrew Liveris takes top spot for 2012" please read in the second entry… Tom Crotty, director of communications, INEOS… instead of… director of communication and CEO, INEOS Olefins & Polymers, INEOS…. A corrected story follows.

We introduce the ICIS Top 40 Power Players for 2012 - the leaders that are changing the face of the global chemical sector through investments, acquisitions, restructuring and innovative ways to do business


CEO, Dow Chemical

Andrew Liveris is placing the big bets in the most cost-advantageous feedstock regions in the world - the Middle East and the US. A restructuring also will boost Dow's position

If you were to pick two regions to build major petrochemical capacity in the world today, they would be the US Gulf Coast and the Middle East. Dow Chemical chairman, president and CEO Andrew Liveris is boosting the company's production base in precisely these cost-advantaged areas with multi-billion-dollar investments.

These projects, along with decisive action to combat headwinds from a slowing global economy, makes Liveris our ICIS Top Power Player of 2012.

To deal with the new realities of a lower growth global economy, the CEO announced in October a sweeping restructuring. This will involve the closure of 29 plants and the elimination of 8% of the workforce. Dow will also slash capital expenditures from 2011 levels of $2.69bn by $100m in 2012, and another $700m in 2013, as well as halt $200m in new business growth spending.

These interventions to combat economic headwinds are aimed at saving about $1bn/year (€764m) in 2013 and $1.75bn by the second half of 2014. "We recognise that these difficult conditions may have extended staying power, as the new reality is that we are operating in a slow-growth and volatile world," said Liveris on Dow's third-quarter earnings call. Yet investors were encouraged by the company's restructuring plan.

Importantly, major petrochemical projects such as its $20bn Sadara joint venture with Saudi Aramco in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and its US Gulf Coast ethylene expansions will proceed as planned.

On the US Gulf Coast, to take advantage of low-cost shale gas, no other company has the scale of planned expansions as Dow Chemical.

The centrepiece will be a world-scale 1.5m tonne/year ethane cracker at Freeport, Texas, with an estimated cost of $2bn to start up in 2017. This is part of a $4bn investment in raising ethylene and propylene capacities in the region. Dow will also build polyethylene (PE) and other downstream capacity there. In the meantime, it is on track to start up its 390,000 tonne/year cracker in St. Charles, Louisiana, by the end of this year.

On the propylene front, Dow is building a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant with 750,000 tonnes/year of propylene capacity in Freeport. Start-up is expected in 2015.

This will also make use of abundant propane supplies from shale gas. The company is mulling an additional PDH plant with unspecified capacity which could be completed in 2018. "Our US Gulf coast investments are high-return projects that will significantly strengthen Dow's profitability, lifting margins for downstream businesses such as performance plastics, performance materials, and coatings," said Liveris on the company's third-quarter conference call in October.

Dow Chemical is also proceeding with the largest petrochemical project in the modern world - the Sadara joint venture with Aramco. The complex will include a worldscale cracker, along with capacity of 3m tonnes/year of polyurethanes, propylene glycol (PG), butyl glycol ethers, amines, polyethylene (PE) and polyolefin elastomers.

Some plants are expected to be operational in the second half of 2015, with all units expected to be running by 2016. The venture awarded US-based engineering firm Foster Wheeler the engineering and procurement contract in October 2012. Dow expects Sadara to generate about $10bn in sales within a few years of operation.

Dow may also get a kicker to fund its major capital projects, as Liveris remains confident it will be paid the $2.16bn arbitration award for its failed K-Dow joint venture with Kuwait's state-owned Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC). Dow expects payment, including accrued interest, by early 2013.

Liveris said: "Things are moving very much in the methodical, professional, legal jurisdiction they should" while "the interest clock is ticking every single day."

Director of communications, INEOS

As director of communications, Tom Crotty has become very much the public face of INEOS which during 2012 has proved itself to be a highly innovative and versatile company, responding quickly to the emerging challenges facing a company with a heavily Europe-focused portfolio.

The rise of US shale gas has left most European chemical producers sidelined by their reliance on naphtha as a feedstock. INEOS responded with the novel idea of importing ethane from the US. The ethane will be used as an alternative feedstock for INEOS's gas cracker in Rafnes, Norway.

INEOS signed an ethane supply agreement with Range Resources, which will run from 2015. Ethane and other natural gas liquids will be drawn from the Marcellus Shale deposits in the northeast of the US.

Approximately 70,000 bbl/day of ethane and propane are expected to be transported to the coast. "There is a huge amount of arbitrage to play with," Crotty told ICIS in October.

INEOS is also seeking to tackle the Europe feedstock conundrum by constructing an ethylene import terminal at Antwerp, Belgium. This is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012 and will allow the company to source from the Middle East and elsewhere. Crotty describes it as having a "virtual cracker".

Responding to the ongoing overcapacity in the European styrene market, INEOS Styrenics permanently halted production of styrene monomer (SM) and polystyrene (PS) at its site in Marl, Germany in October.

Crotty is also president of the European Petrochemical Association.


The leader of Germany-based LANXESS, the world's largest producer of synthetic rubber, has achieved remarkable financial results and stability in gross margins in the face of volatile butadiene (BD) feedstock prices.

The company has been able to use its rock solid balance sheet to fund major growth projects, especially in Asia, in BD rubber and other specialty rubbers. LANXESS joined the blue-chip DAX stock index in Germany this year and its stock has been one of the top performers in 2012.

At its media day in New York in September, Heitmann revved up the company's profit targets on accelerating demand for high-performance synthetic rubber and lightweight plastics to cut vehicle fuel consumption - an area it calls "green mobility".

"In 2011, products related to green mobility accounted for 17%, or €1.5bn [$1.9bn] of our total sales, and that figure is growing. We aim to nearly double our total revenue in this field to €2.7bn by 2015," he said.

LANXESS is investing heavily in new world-scale facilities to produce high-performance synthetic rubbers for these tyres.

In September, the company began construction of a €200m neodymium-based performance rubber (Nd-PBR) plant at Jurong Island in Singapore. The 140,000 tonne/year plant is expected to start up in the first half of 2015. LANXESS expects the facility to generate annual sales of €300m-350m as of 2017.

And LANXESS' new 100,000 tonne/year butyl rubber unit is on track to be started up in the first quarter of 2013. The butyl rubber plant, LANXESS' single-largest investment at €400m, is next to the new Nd-PBR unit on Jurong Island.



Under Dmitry Konov's leadership, Russian petrochemical major SIBUR has continued with an impressive scheme of new project construction as well as more inorganic portfolio reshaping to prepare it for an initial public offering, probably in 2013.

Most recently, in October, Konov was present for the signing of a joint venture for the production of surfactants and oilfield process chemicals in Russia with Belgian chemicals group Solvay. Known as RusPAV, the joint-held company will be based near SIBUR's petrochemical operations in Dzerzhinsk, 400km (248 miles) east of Moscow, and is expected to come on stream in 2015.

SIBUR will provide raw materials and production capacity to RusPAV, while Solvay will contribute its experience in the surfactants industry, as well as the customer networks of Novecare - its surfactants subsidiary.

Meanwhile, SIBUR expects to begin commercial production at its 500,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) project in Tobolsk, Siberia, Russia, in the first half of 2013.

In June SIBUR entered into an agreement with Germany's Linde to design and build one of the world's largest ethylene plants in Tobolsk, western Siberia.

Germany's Linde will provide front end engineering and design (FEED) services for the 1.5m tonnes/year ethylene plant to be built at the ZapSibNeftekhim petrochemical complex in Tobolsk.

Konov has also been pushing ahead into emerging markets to the east. China's Sinopec signed a deal with SIBUR for the acquisition of a 25% stake in the Russian firm's synthetic rubber plant in Krasnoyarsk.

Also in 2012, SIBUR Petrochemical India started operations in Mumbai, India and plans construction of a 100,000 tonne/year butyl rubber facility in Jamnagar in India's western Gujarat state.


President, ExxonMobil Chemical

Leading the third-largest chemical company in the world, Pryor is embarking on projects that will solidify its presence in the US Gulf coast as well as the Middle East.

US-based ExxonMobil Chemical's announcement of a new 1.5m tonne/year cracker in Baytown, Texas, US, by 2016 surprised many as the company previously indicated it would focus on debottlenecks. However, the ambitious timing of the start-up ahead of many rivals belies solid preparation. The cracker will provide ethylene feedstock for two new 650,000 tonne/year high-performance polyethylene (PE) lines at the company's nearby Mont Belvieu plastics plant.

In Saudi Arabia, with local partner SABIC, it is building a 400,000 tonne/year specialty elastomers project, expected to come on line by 2015.


CEO, LyondellBasell

The ICIS Top Power Player of 2011 is continuing his winning streak with solid financial results driven by US shale gas dynamics.

Rather than building a world-scale cracker, Gallogly is expanding US ethylene facilities in Channelview, La Porte and potentially Corpus Christi, Texas, to maximise return on capital and bring that capacity on earlier to take advantage of strong margins. "Our previously announced growth projects remain on schedule. We have initiated a review of additional olefins debottleneck projects targeted to capitalise on the advantage of favorable North American NGL prices," said Gallogly on the release of third-quarter results.

Netherlands-based LyondellBasell has been added this year to the US benchmark S&P 500 index.

CEO, Versalis

It's been a landmark year for Ferrari as he oversees the €2bn transition of Italy's Versalis - formerly Polimeri Europa. The new strategy focuses on licensing, innovation and green chemistry, as well as four core business pillars: styrenics, elastomers, polyethylene (PE) and intermediates.

Part of the plan includes expansion beyond the confines of Europe. In July, Versalis agreed a joint venture with Malaysia's PETRONAS to build elastomer plants in Johor state to produce and market synthetic rubbers.

Ferrari also headed to Shanghai, China, in September for the inauguration of the company's new Asia-Pacific headquarters. While there he announced a €400m/year investment to expand operations in Asia and plans to enhance its elastomers segment.


CEO, Saudi Aramco

As it is an oil refiner, Saudi Aramco has access to the naphtha that will supply 70% of the feedstock for the $20bn 26-plant Sadara Chemical Saudi Aramco/Dow Chemical joint-venture petrochemical project in Saudi Arabia. But this is not just about integration; it is also about creating jobs for Saudi Arabia's population, whose median age is just 25.3.

The logic is that as cracking naphtha results in a wider array of petrochemicals than cracking ethane, the current dominant feedstock in Saudi Arabia. This will lead to a broadening of manufacturing industry. Khalid al-Falih, CEO of Aramco, will therefore face the challenge of balancing profitability against this social and political agenda, once the Sadara complex is on stream in 2015-2016.

Chairman, Sinopec

Sinopec is a government company and so fulfils an agenda defined by the Chinese government. Its role is to help China improve its energy self-sufficiency through acquiring overseas oil and gas reserves, and through gaining greater access to Western technology. And so watch for further overseas acquisitions by Sinopec next year, following the relatively minor purchases in 2012 of Indonesian and European oil-storage assets.

Chengyu Fu, who replaced Shulin Su as CEO of Sinopec in 2011, said in a recent speech that Sinopec is searching for more foreign oil and gas opportunities. Domestically, and in petrochemicals, it has formed a joint venture with US-based Huntsman to build a world-scale propylene oxide (PO)/methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) plant in Nanjing by the end of 2014.


CEO, NOVA Chemicals

NOVA Chemicals CEO Randy Woelfel is challenging himself and his company's employees to think hard about what the company might be like in 2020 and become by 2030. The NOVA 2020 project includes the expenditure of some $1.75bn on cracker and polyethylene expansion projects. But Woelfel clearly wants to look carefully at what might lie beyond.

Canada-based NOVA Chemicals, which won the ICIS Company of the Year Award this year for its financial performance in 2011, is set to take advantage of new supplies of ethane for its crackers from shale gas and shale oil developments in the US and from the gases pumped from the Alberta oil sands deposits in Canada. The financial base Woelfel and his team have achieved in a short time stands the firm well for the future.


Chairman, BASF

BASF faces some very real challenges in the current slow and uncertain European chemicals environment but Kurt Bock continues to help steer the industry giant on a very steady course.

Executive board chairman since 2011, Bock has been in charge of BASF through a period of record returns but of growing restraints. Chemical demand growth has slowed globally, Europe is difficult and China is growing more slowly.

The company is being driven forward hard and has adopted a strategy that is targeting growth two percentage points above the chemical sector average over the next 10 years and significantly higher earnings before interest and tax. It has been active in a low level of merger and acquisition activity this year despite the difficult operating environment.

CEO, Solvay

When Belgium-based Solvay was looking for a partner or for an acquisition to strengthen the company and its clear commitment to chemicals it was also thinking hard about senior management succession.

Acquiring Rhodia in 2011 gave it some exciting new areas of chemistry and a CEO with a proven track record of focus and growth.

Jean-Pierre Clamadieu at France's Rhodia rescued a financially exposed group and set about simplifying and focusing its businesses and structures.

As the head of the new Solvay from 10 May this year he sees further opportunities to drive growth in some increasingly important chemicals markets.


CEO, Braskem

The head of Latin America's largest chemical company is focused on building gas-based petrochemical projects in the region.

Its majority-owned joint venture Braskem Idesa with Mexico's Grupo Idesa will build Ethylene XXI, Mexico's largest petrochemical project, featuring a 1.05m tonne/year cracker and associated polyethylene (PE) facilities by 2015. Braskem is also in negotiations with Brazil state-operated oil company Petrobras and the government to hash out details of the petrochemical portion of the Comperj project. Details are expected in early 2013 with a final decision being made in 2014 and estimated completion in 2017-2018.

Brazil-based Braskem has also reportedly put its distribution arm QuantiQ on sale, a move that could help fund its projects.


CEO, Brenntag

Brenntag CEO Steve Holland has steered the world's largest chemical distributor through another busy year of steady growth by acquisition. He has also had to cope with a competition enquiry.

In October the German company signed an agreement to acquire Delanta Group - a $24.3m sales specialty chemical distributor in Latin America. In July it completed the acquisition of Australia-based specialty chemical distribution company ISM/Salkat Group. Brenntag also acquired Treat-Em-Rite, a chemical distribution ­company in Texas, US. In November Germany's federal competition ­agency prohibited Brenntag from continuing its CVH Chemie-Vetrieb joint venture with distributor CG Chemikalien. The three firms held combined market shares of up to 70%, the agency said.


Executive vice president, Shell Chemicals

Ben van Beurden has enjoyed a stellar career at Shell from 1983, and is moving up again in January 2013 when he steps down as executive vice president of chemicals, to become the new director of the group's downstream operations.

This year he has spearheaded the Dutch/British company's continuing growth in chemicals. In November he took a final investment decision to debottleneck the company's 800,000 tonne/year mixed-feed cracker at Bukom Island in Singapore to boost the company's production capacity of olefins and aromatics by more than 20% at the site.

The same month SABIC and Shell said they are looking at plans to build a full range of polyols and propylene oxide styrene monomer plants at the joint venture SADAF site in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia.


CEO and chairman, Arkema

Le Henaff pleases Arkema's investors as the French chemicals company transforms into a specialty player.

In September 2011, Arkema reported that it had entered a new phase in its development since its 2006 spin-off from energy major Total. Following the creation of a global coating segment, the formation of a high-value performance-materials segment and the divestment of its vinyls business, Le Henaff said the group is now well positioned for future growth.

Arkema reiterated its target to reach group sales of €8bn and an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) margin of 16% in 2016, while maintaining gearing below 40% - achieved through a balance of organic growth and acquisitions, with a continued focus to expand in higher growth countries.


CEO, Grupo Idesa

Uriegas is making progress on the Mexican company's joint venture with Brazil's Braskem on the Ethylene XXI project. The $3.7bn (€2.9bn) project will include a 1.05m tonne/year ethane cracker, two high density polyethylene (HDPE) plants with capacities of 350,000 tonnes/year and 400,000 tonnes/year, and one 300,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant.

It will be the first new cracker in Latin America with advantaged local gas feedstock based on US ethane prices, and possibly only one of two major complexes built in the region.

Ethylene XXI has progressed smoothly with completion on track for July 2015. Site preparation is complete and basic engineering finished. As of November, around 50% of the equipment needed has ben ordered.


CEO, Evonik

A veteran of the chemical industry for nearly 30 years, Engel has been chief executive of Evonik since January 2009, taking on the task of stewarding the German chemical major through a challenging period of economic turmoil.

Following the cancellation of an anticipated IPO in June on the back of ongoing eurozone weakness, Engel has responded by seeking out competitive advantages, such as capitalising on cheaper shale gas-derived feedstocks by developing a 120,000 tonne/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant in the US. He is also making big emerging market bets, with a planned €500m methionine complex in Singapore representing its largest single investment in a facility to date. A 230,000 tonne/year hydrogen peroxide plant in China is also to come on stream next year.


CEO, Mexichem

Heading up Latin America's largest polyvinyl chloride (PVC) company, Rule engineered Mexichem's proposal with US-based Occidental Chemical (OxyChem) to build a 500,000 tonne/year cracker at Ingleside, Texas, US.

The cracker would supply an OxyChem vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) unit at the site to produce 1m tonnes/year of the product for export to Mexichem's PVC sites in Mexico and Colombia.

The deal is a wise move for Mexichem to diversify its supply options, as Mexico's state-owned Pemex has dragged its feet on its ethylene expansion and proposed VCM joint venture with Mexichem. The company continues to build its leading position in PVC, which is likely to pay off with growing construction markets in the region.


CEO, Indorama Ventures

The CEO of the Thailand-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) producer has strung together an impressive array of acquisitions and expansions worldwide.

Indorama will expand PET capacity in the US by setting up a new 540,000 tonne/year plant by the fourth quarter of 2015. In 2012, the company started commercial operations at new PET plants in Nigeria, the Netherlands and China.

The company plans to focus on consolidation and integration after its mergers and acquisitions spree. This year it acquired US-based ethylene oxide (EO) and ethylene glycol (EG) producer Old World Industries. Indorama is also exploring the construction of a world-scale US ethane cracker with an undisclosed partner to back integrate into ethylene.

Chairman and CEO, Eastman Chemical

Rogers is transforming US-based Eastman Chemical, towards a higher margin profile. A major component of this strategy was its $4.8bn (€3.7bn) (including the assumption of debt) acquisition of US-based specialty chemical and materials company Solutia in July. Solutia produces advanced interlayers for automotive windows, solar encapsulants, performance films for building windows, rubber chemicals and hydraulic fluids.

For product integration, Rogers looks both forward and backward. In April, Eastman signed a contract to source propylene feedstock from a planned propane dehydrogenation (PDH) facility set for start-up in 2015.

Wall Street is cheering Rogers' strategy, making Eastman's stock one of the top performers in 2012.



Chair and CEO, DuPont

Kullman continues to shift the US-based company more towards biotechnology and higher-margin specialty chemicals and materials.

This year, DuPont agreed to sell its automotive coatings business to US private equity firm Carlyle Group for $4.9bn (€3.8bn) in August. This sale along with the acquisition of Denmark-based enzyme company Danisco in June 2011, will sharpen DuPont's focus on high-growth and high-margin markets in agriculture and nutrition, advanced materials and industrial biotechnology.

DuPont has had a challenging 2012, with its leading titanium dioxide business providing headwinds, along with electronic materials. Kullman has responded with a restructuring plan aimed at saving $450m/year from 2014, and $300m in 2013. This will eliminate 1,500 jobs.



Occidental Chemical

Anderson's OxyChem signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture with Mexichem to build a 500,000 tonne/year ethane cracker at OxyChem's site at Ingleside, Texas, US.

The ethylene from the $1bn-plus project would be used to produce 1m tonnes/year of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) at the site by OxyChem, to be shipped to Mexichem's polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sites in Mexico and Colombia under a long-term supply agreement. Pending a definitive agreement, the cracker could start up by 2016.

The US-based OxyChem stands to benefit from the competitive US shale gas position on both the ethylene and vinyls side. It is currently a net buyer of ethylene for its vinyl products.


CEO, Bayer MaterialScience

The genial Thomas is always entertaining and insightful in media interviews. This year he has continued his push for organic growth, making significant progress with plans for a new 300,000 tonne/year toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) project at Dormagen near Cologne.

This year it obtained the building permit for the proposed €150m ($200m) project. In May Germany's government-owned KfW IPEX-Bank said it would provide financing for the project. Bayer MaterialScience will use a process at the Dormagen TDI project that reduces energy consumption by up to 60% compared with a conventional TDI plant. The plant is expected to start up in 2014. Thomas continues his innovation drive with more sponsorship of the high profile Solar Impulse plane.


President and CEO, Chevron Phillips Chemical

The head of the major US-based chemical joint venture has seen one of its own joint venture companies - Saudi Polymers - in which it owns a 35% stake, start commercial operations in Al Jubail.

This complex has capacity of 1.16m tonnes/year of ethylene; 1.1m tonnes/year of polyethylene (PE); 430,000 tonnes/year of propylene; 400,000 tonnes of polypropylene (PP); 200,000 tonnes/year of polystyrene (PS), and; 100,000 tonnes/year of 1-hexene.

CPChem is also exploring building a petrochemical site in Iraq, having signed a non-binding letter of intent with Iraq's Ministry of Industry and Minerals. And on the US Gulf Coast, CPChem plans to build a new 1.5m tonne/year ethane cracker in Cedar Bayou, Texas, by the first quarter of 2017 to take advantage of low-cost US shale gas.

President, Sumitomo Chemical

This year Tokura gave the green light to phase 2 of Sumitomo Chemical's Petro Rabigh project in Saudi Arabia with partner Saudi Aramco. This essentially moves the Japanese company's petrochemical hub to the feedstock-advantaged country.

Downstream products in phase 2, which will cost around $7.0bn (€5.5bn) include low density polyethylene (LDPE), ethylene vinyl acetate, ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM) rubber, methyl methacrylate (MMA), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and polyols. Plants are expected to start coming on stream by the first half of 2016.

Sumitomo Chemical is the only Japan-based chemical company to have ethylene facilities in external countries. It also has naphtha crackers in Singapore.


CEO, Georgia Gulf

The head of the US-based polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer agreed to merge with PPG Industries' chlor-alkali business in an innovative $2.1bn (€1.6bn) Morris Trust transaction designed to minimise taxes.

The deal, which will create an integrated vinyls company with around $5bn in sales, is expected to be completed in late 2012 or early 2013. It will form the third-largest chlor-alkali producer and second-largest vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) producer in North America.

"Approximately 70% integration to natural-gas-fired cogeneration will make the combined company one of the lowest-cost integrated chlor-alkali producers in the world," Carrico said, adding that the vertical integration will enhance plant operating rates.

President and CEO, Huntsman

Heading up the eponymous firm, the CEO announced a 49:51 joint venture with China's Sinopec to build a world-scale propylene oxide (PO)/methyl teriary butyl ether (MTBE) facility in Nanjing by the end of 2014. The $750m (€589m) facility will produce 250,000 tonnes/year of polyurethane (PU) intermediate PO and 726,000 tonnes/year of the fuel additive MTBE.

The US company has been stepping up its investments in China with a planned investment in methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI). It has also commissioned engineering studies to increase MDI capacities at its site in Geismar, Louisiana, US, to take advantage of abundant shale gas.

Earnings have been impressive in 2012, driven by a strong PU sector while the titanium dioxide division has struggled.


President and CEO, Westlake Chemical

The head of the US-based olefins and vinyls company is undertaking two ethylene expansions at Lake Charles, Louisiana in the US. Westlake is also converting its cracker in Calvert City, Kentucky, US, to use ethane feedstock rather than propane.

Ethylene capacity in Calvert City will rise from 450m lb/year (204,000 tonnes/year) to 630m lb/year, and the company will add 200m lb/year to its existing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) capacity of 1.1bn lb/year at the site.

Westlake's opportunistic attempted takeover of US PVC producer Georgia Gulf earlier this year failed as the target linked up with PPG Industries' chlor-alkali business instead.

However, Westlake's profits have soared and its stock has been one of the top performers in the group.


CEO, PETRONAS Chemicals Group

The first objective of Malaysia-based PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) will be to successfully complete its $20bn RAPID refinery-petrochemicals project at Pengerang, Johor, in Malaysia.

The complex, due on-stream by late 2016, will comprise a 300,000 bbl/day refinery, 9m tonnes/year of refinery products at 4.5m tonnes/year of petrochemicals.

This will not just be basic petrochemicals, but also specialty chemicals, which will require production and sales and marketing skills new to Malaysia.

PCG freely admits that this is not just about making money, but also about boosting the domestic economy. Thus, Abdullah has to balance profitability with this social and political agenda.


CEO, Styrolution

Gualdoni was handed the task of combining the former styrenics businesses of Germany's BASF and Switzerland-headquartered INEOS.

When it started operations in October 2011, Gualdoni said the Frankfurt-headquartered joint venture will be the global leader in the production of styrene monomer (SM) and polystyrene (PS).

In October this year, Gualdoni said Styrolution is making faster-than-expected progress on the integration despite poor economic and ­market conditions. Gualdoni is now steering the company towards ­specialties, after the closing of PS and SM units in Marl, Germany, in order to tackle over-capacity and improve the competitive position of its European styrene-based commodity business.

CEO, Sasol

The former group president of global operations at US-based engineering firm Fluor has had a successful time at Johannesburg-based energy and petrochemical major Sasol since being appointed to the board in July 2011. Despite continuing global economic uncertainty and certain production challenges in the first half of the financial year, Constable was able to report strong results with record dividends. He is also looking to take advantage of the rapid development of the shale gas industry in North America.

In December 2012, Sasol announced it is moving forward with the front end engineering and design phase for 1.5m tonne/year ethane cracker in Lake Charles, Louisiana, US. The $5bn-7bn (€3.8bn-€5.4bn) is expected to be operational in 2017.


Chairman and CEO, PPG Industries

Leading the US-based coatings powerhouse, Bunch has made a transformational deal to divest its chlor-alkali business in a deal with US-based polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Georgia Gulf.

In the planned $2.1bn (€1.6bn) deal, PPG will receive $900m in cash and Georgia Gulf shares. With this, PPG will become a purer play in coatings and optical products. The company will use the cash for coatings and related acquisitions worldwide.

On the raw materials front, Bunch has put the pressure on titanium dioxide (TiO2) suppliers, targeting a 4-6% reduction in the white pigment's use in 2012 and also using sulphate-based TiO2 from China in its formulations. Under Bunch, PPG has become a darling of Wall Street and the stock has been a top performer this year.


Chairman, President And CEO, Cytec Industries

Under Fleming, US-based Cytec agreed to sell its underperforming coatings resins business to ­private equity firm Advent International for $1.03bn (€804m). It also sold its pressure ­sensitive adhesives business to Germany's Henkel for $105m and certain specialty chemical assets in Brazil to Brazil-based surfactants producer Oxiteno.

As Fleming has divested non-core businesses, he has bulked up Cytec's core composites business with the acquisition of UK-based Umecore for $439m. "We are confident the acquisition strengthens our position as a leading manufacturer of advanced composite materials and offers significant opportunities for growth and value creation," Fleming said in July on the close of the deal.


CEO, Clariant

Kottmann has headed up the Swiss specialty chemicals firm for four years now and continues to work hard to improve the financial performance of what was, and largely still is, a collection of disparate specialty chemical businesses.

His latest move is to put up for sale three business units - Emulsions, detergents & intermediates; Paper specialties; and Textile chemicals, so as to focus on and strengthen its core activities consisting of Additives, Catalysis & energy; Functional materials; and Industrial and consumer specialties. He has already bolstered the catalysts and energy unit and the functional materials segment with the €1.9bn ($2.5bn) acquisition of Germany's Sud-Chemie. Clariant is also focused on expanding its presence in China, India and Latin America.

Chairman, president and CEO, PolyOne

The CEO of US-based plastics compounder PolyOne has significantly raised the company's profile with the planned acquisition of US rival Spartech for $393m (€307m).

"Spartech expands PolyOne's specialty portfolio with adjacent technologies in attractive end markets where we already participate as well as new ones like aerospace and security," said Newlin on the deal's announcement in October. "By combining Spartech's leading market positions in sheet, rigid barrier packaging and specialty cast acrylics with PolyOne's capabilities, we can accelerate growth for both companies." Wall Street is buying the story, with shares of PolyOne soaring to a new all-time high. The Spartech deal follows PolyOne's acquisition of liquid colorants firm ColorMatrix for $486m in 2011.

President and CEO, Williams Companies

Armstrong is positioning Williams Companies to become a powerhouse in feedstocks to the US petrochemical sector.

It agreed to acquire 12 idle pipelines from US-based ExxonMobil in the US Gulf Coast.

Williams Companies is investing $480m, including the cost of the acquisition, in projects to expand its petrochemical services in the Gulf Coast.

This includes expansion of its existing ethylene hub at Mont Belvieu, the establishment of a propylene hub that will connect propylene customers with Mont Belvieu, and a new isobutane network that will connect to single-sourced or undersupplied customers.

These projects are expected to come on line starting in late 2014.

President, MEGlobal

Under Ramesh Ramachandran's leadership, Dubai-basedMEGlobal is undertaking major expansions in monoethylene glycol (MEG) in North America.

It expects to begin operations at its newly-expanded MEG unit at Fort Saskatchewan in Canada by April-May 2013, and is planning to build a new grassroots facility in North America. The company expects the reactors it bought as part of a project to improve the conversion efficiency at the unit to arrive in Canada around February next year. Commenting on plans to build a new grassroots MEG facility in North America, he recently said that plans for the project are likely to be confirmed by the end of 2013.

MEGlobal is a joint venture between US-based Dow Chemical and Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC) of Kuwait and was set up in 2004.


CEO, Borealis

Unlike some chemical industry leaders, Mark Garrett did not mince his words when asked about the outlook for the European polymers sector and the impact of the EU debt crisis. He said in November that Europe is stagnating, due in part to an unwillingness by EU politicians to make substantive structural changes to their economies. He said: "We can't expect [Mario] Draghi at the European Central Bank to fly in like Superman and rescue all of the politicians who aren't prepared to make any fiscal or structural changes to the economy."

Austria-based Borealis is also pushing ahead with Borouge 3, the latest development in the company's 2.5m tonnes/year joint venture with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. Borealis is owned by the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) of Abu Dhabi and by Austria's OMV.


President and CEO, Methanex

The head of the world's largest methanol producer has been busy this year with the shift in global gas availability. Canada-based Methanex is dismantling one of its four methanol units in Punta Arenas, Chile, because of lack of gas supply, and moving it to Geismar, Louisiana, US to take advantage of abundant shale gas in the US.

The unit has capacity of 1m tonnes/year. Methanex will begin the move in early 2013 and have the plant running by the end of 2014, and it is also considering moving a second unit. Aitken will retire on 1 January, with senior vice president John Floren replacing him. Aitken, a 21-year veteran with the company, was appointed to the top job in 2004. He will remain a director after retiring.

Keep an eye on these new and up-and-coming players as they strive to make an impact on their companies and the global chemical sector

CEO, Genomatica

The head of the US-based renewable chemical process technology firm expects more partners to join its bio-butadiene (BD) programme following its partnership with Italy-based chemical producer Versalis and bioplastics company Novamont. Genomatica is also commercialising bio-butanediol.

CEO, Univar

The newly appointed CEO will aim to increase the world's second largest chemical distributor's presence in Brazil, China and other high-growth markets. In Brazil, he aims to build on Univar's 2011 acquisition of chemical distributor Arinos Quimica which had sales of $115.8m (€90.3m) in 2010.

Chairman and CEO, Celanese

The former head of US specialty chemical producer Albemarle has taken the helm at US-based acetyls and specialty chemical company Celanese. Slowing China growth poses a challenge. But it is moving forward with its plan to modify a plant in Nanjing to produce industrial ethanol based on its new TCX technology, which can produce ethanol from natural gas or coal.

CEO, PTT Global Chemical

The new CEO of the Thailand-based company as of 1 May, 2012 will seek bio-based production of traditional petrochemicals such as epichlorohydrin (ECH). The company will also participate in Malaysia's RAPID integrated petrochemical project run by PETRONAS. It is also contemplating building a new cracker in the US to take advantage of shale gas.

Additional reporting by Stefan Baumgarten