How To Reach C&ENACS Membership Number


October 21, 2002
Volume 80, Number 42
CENEAR 80 42 pp. 18-19
ISSN 0009-2347


DuPont delays purchase of ChemFirst following plant fire

DuPont has put its $408 million acquisition of ChemFirst on hold pending a joint investigation by the two companies of an explosion at ChemFirst's plant in Pascagoula, Miss. At about 5:30 AM on Oct. 13, an idle mononitrotoluene distillation column exploded. Debris ruptured and set ablaze a p-nitrotoluene tank on the site. p-Nitrotoluene is used in printing inks and optical brighteners for detergents. Three workers were treated for minor cuts and abrasions and were released. In July, DuPont had announced the purchase of ChemFirst, which makes electronic chemicals and polyurethane intermediates. The companies received Federal Trade Commission clearance for the deal on Oct. 1, despite both firms' strong positions in materials for photoresist stripping and chemical mechanical planarization. The explosion notwithstanding, ChemFirst shareholders approved the deal last week.



U.K. chemistry-services firms sign deals

A trio of English chemistry-services companies are upping their business activities. Peakdale Molecular has set an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline to supply synthetic chemistry services in generation of low-molecular-weight, druglike compounds with potential applications in respiratory and inflammation care. In another deal, Maybridge has agreed with British biotech company Synaptica to undertake a medicinal chemistry lead optimization program for one of the therapeutic programs of Synaptica, which focuses on neurosciences. And Key Organics this month will open new laboratories that boost lab space to about 28,500 sq ft. It is also increasing its scale-up facilities and expanding its on-site analytical services.


Pharm-Eco adds cryogenics

Pharm-Eco, the contract-research chemistry arm of Johnson Matthey, is adding containment labs and a new reactor suite for high-containment and cryogenic manufacturing in Devens, Mass. The project is scheduled for completion by mid-2003, according to Salah Zahr, general manager. He says the addition is part of a major expansion at Devens, where the company recently opened eight new laboratories, bringing the total there to 30. Pharm-Eco moved to the site from Lexington, Mass., in 2000, one year before it was acquired by Johnson Matthey.



Roche raises vitamins fund

Roche has boosted by $800 million the money set aside to cover liabilities from the vitamins cartel that was uncovered five years ago. According to a statement accompanying Roche's third-quarter earnings last week, out-of-court settlements have been concluded this year with a number of U.S. customers. However, the company decided to increase provisions based on negotiations with other customers and in light of legal developments in the U.S. and other countries. Despite the fines, Roche says it is proceeding toward a final agreement to sell its vitamins and fine chemicals division to DSM, with the deal expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2003. All liabilities from the vitamin case will remain with Roche.



Ciba licenses Xerox process


FRESHER Ciba sees Xerox technology leading to better plastics for packaging. CIBA PHOTO

Ciba Specialty Chemicals has obtained a worldwide license from Xerox for 24 patents covering the combined use of a stable free radical and a radical initiator in controlled free-radical polymerization (CFRP). The deal allows Ciba to use CFRP for processes in which polymerization is initiated by a radical generator and controlled by a nitroxyl radical from Ciba. According to Ciba, the technology allows production of improved or new thermoplastics, elastomers, and hot-melt adhesives for applications ranging from packaging to automotive. Xerox will retain the right to use the technology in electronic printing and water-based processes.


Monsanto and Solutia warn on earnings

Monsanto and Solutia have updated their earnings outlooks. Monsanto says full-year earnings will be in the range of $1.15 to $1.23 per share, lower than earlier projections of about $1.50 per share. For the third quarter, the company projects a loss of 39 to 44 cents, compared with a loss of 15 cents in the same period last year. A continued decline in Roundup herbicide sales in the U.S. and lower than expected sales in Argentina are to blame. Solutia says it will have earnings, excluding unusual charges, of about 11 cents per share in the third quarter. Earlier, it had predicted that earnings would be slightly below the 22 cents seen in the second quarter.



Shell idles alcohol line

Shell Chemical is idling 100,000 metric tons per year of its Neodol alcohol capacity in Geismar, La. The decision follows the construction of 150,000 metric tons of new higher alcohols capacity in Geismar, through both an improvement project last year and the completion earlier this year of a new unit. Shell's global higher alcohols capacity will be 440,000 metric tons after the idling.



PPG-Sipsy adds ozone layer

PPG-Sipsy has added low-temperature ozonolysis to its reaction capabilities in Plélan le Grand, France. The technology will allow the company to add a range of new products manufactured via double-bond cleavage, says Michael McGarry, general manager of the PPG fine chemicals unit. "The process has little or no by-products except oxygen and has high selectivity," he says. Other capabilities at Plélan le Grand include phosgene chemistry, asymmetric hydrogenation, and hydride reductions. The company recently expanded its reduction chemistry capacity, partly to accommodate downstream reductions of ozonides.



Olive-derived antioxidants get financed

DSM and life sciences investment bankers Burrill & Co. are among a group of investors who have contributed $8.3 million in venture capital to help four-year-old CreAgri develop a market for polyphenol antioxidants derived from olive pulp. CreAgri has developed a technique to recover polyphenols from an aqueous by-product produced during olive oil extraction. Paul Hamm, director of DSM Venturing & Business Development, says that, by investing in and cooperating with CreAgri, "DSM expects to accelerate innovations in the nutraceuticals arena."



Wacker boosts silicon wafers

Wacker's Siltronic division will invest roughly $430 million in Freiberg, Germany, to build a plant to produce 300-mm silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry. Initial capacity will be 60,000 wafers per month. When the plant is fully onstream in August 2004, it will almost triple the firm's existing 300-mm capacity, according to CEO Peter-Alexander Wacker. Wacker is the only company to make 300-mm wafers outside Japan, where Shin-Etsu is the leader (C&EN, Oct. 7, page 18).



Cognis, Kemin settle dispute

Cognis and Kemin Foods have settled litigation involving marketing and promotional issues for lutein and lutein ester products (C&EN, Dec. 17, 2001, page 16). Kemin accused Cognis of making unsubstantiated claims and not providing labeling guidelines as required in an earlier settlement to buyers of its Xangold brand lutein esters. Kemin claims its FloraGold lutein is more bioavailable than Cognis' Xangold. Terms of the agreement were not released. Added to vitamins and dietary supplements, lutein may help to prevent macular degeneration.


Chemical prices still on the rise

U.S. chemical prices rose again in September, according to the latest data from the Labor Department. The government's producer price index for chemicals and allied products increased 0.3% to 154.3 (1982 = 100) from August. The index was 2.8% ahead of September 2001. The industrial chemicals index rose just 0.2% from the previous month to 131.0; however, it gained 3.1% from September of last year.



Invitrogen to buy InforMax

Invitrogen will purchase bioinformatics company InforMax for about $42 million in cash. San Diego-based Invitrogen makes and sells life sciences research products and will combine InforMax' software tools for experimental design, management, and interpretation with its own kits for gene identification, cloning, expression, and analysis. InforMax believes the acquisition will help accelerate growth of its product sales.


BP and Formosa set acetic acid deal

Formosa Chemicals & Fiber Corp. and BP will form a 50-50 joint venture to make acetic acid at the Taiwanese company's Mai Liao petrochemicals complex in Taiwan. The venture, Formosa BP Chemicals Corp., will build a 300,000-metric-ton-per-year acetic acid plant using BP's Cativa technology. The company will also build a plant producing the acetic acid feedstock carbon monoxide. The plants are expected to be onstream in early 2005.



Johnson to buy Bayer bug line

S. C. Johnson has signed a letter of intent to buy Bayer's household insecticides business, which has annual sales of roughly $400 million (C&EN, Sept. 30, page 13). The deal includes the Baygon insecticide and Autan insect-repellent brands. Bayer wants to complete the sale by the end of this year; it announced in March that the unit was for sale.



  • Bayer has completed its acquisition of Visible Genetics for just over $60 million. Bayer says the purchase gives it access to one of the fastest growing segments in diagnostics: infectious disease testing, which it sees growing by 20% annually through 2005 to some $1 billion per year. 
  • DuPont Engineering Polymers has opened a technical center in Shenzhen, China, that will support the product development efforts of DuPont engineering polymer customers in the Hong Kong area.  
  • Dow Chemical and the Finnish papermaker Metso are uniting to bring a new multilayer paper- and board-coating process to market. Dow's emulsion polymers unit will develop the coating chemicals and colors, while Metso will develop the coating station technology.
  • ExxonMobil has agreed to pay about $290,000 to settle asbestos-related claims, leaving the Union Carbide subsidiary of Dow Chemical as the last defendant in a West Virginia trial that at one time involved more than 250 firms. All other defendants settled earlier. 
  • Fluor and Solutia have resolved their dispute over financial responsibility for cost overruns in the construction of a Solutia acrylonitrile plant in Chocolate Bayou, Texas. As a result, Solutia will pay Fluor $20 million over a three-year period. 
  • ChemCodes, a provider of high-throughput chemistry services, has signed a research agreement with Roche. Using its medicinal chemistry expertise, ChemCodes will develop reactions to produce compounds that act on a Roche drug target.
  • Akzo Nobel has acquired a 50% stake in the Mexican powder coatings producer Industrial de Acabados. Akzo says it is following international customers that have located their manufacturing in Mexico.


Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2002 American Chemical Society

Go To
E-mail this article to a friend
Print this article
E-mail the editor

Home | Table of Contents | Today's Headlines | Business | Government & Policy | Science & Technology | C&EN Classifieds
About C&EN | How To Reach Us | How to Advertise | Editorial Calendar | Email Webmaster

Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2002 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.
• (202) 872-4600 • (800) 227-5558

CASChemPortChemCenterPubs Page