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Huntsman cost cuts on pace

SABIC launches -olefin process

Honeywell wins cockpit contract

BASF slates Korean vitamins

BP rejiggers polypropylene

Rhodia expands and contracts

Ineos seeks help on plant upgrade

Degussa lowers profit outlook

Firms announce new leaders

PCS invests in Chile's SQM

ICI launches savings effort ...

... and sees delays in Huntsman deal

New debt pact on Chandra Asri

Two deals in light-emitting polymers

BUSINESS ROUNDUP

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BUSINESS CONCENTRATES
November 5, 2001
Volume 79, Number 45
CENEAR 79 45 pp. 16-17
ISSN 0009-2347
[Previous Story] [Next Story]

Cambrex makes biopharma buy

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Cambrex has acquired Marathon Biopharmaceuticals, a producer of biologics and biopharmaceutical ingredients in Hopkinton, Mass., for about $26 million in cash. In June, Cambrex acquired a similar company, Baltimore-based Bio Science Contract Production Corp., for $120 million. The two firms, which together will be known as Cambrex Bio Science, were among the few independent biopharmaceutical producers in the U.S. Akzo Nobel and Dow Chemical earlier acquired two other biopharmaceutical makers (C&EN, April 30, page 12). Cambrex CEO James Mack says Marathon, which should have sales of $8.5 million this year, "extends our capacity and capabilities in the rapidly expanding contract biopharmaceutical manufacturing arena."


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Huntsman cost cuts on pace

Huntsman Corp. has completed more than half of a cost-cutting program that will take at least $125 million in fixed and overhead costs from its North American business by the end of the year. The initiative, which began in July, will eliminate 700 positions. Huntsman Corp. has more than 14,000 employees worldwide.


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SABIC launches -olefin process

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) and German engineering company Linde have launched a new process for making linear -olefins. The process, dubbed a-Sablin, will be featured in a plant that SABIC will build at its complex in Al-Jubail, on the Persian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia. It will have capacity for 150,000 metric tons of -olefins per year when it opens in the first half of 2004. In the a-Sablin process, -olefins produced via ethylene oligomerization are fed through a series of separation columns to obtain the desired fractions. According to SABIC, the high-selectivity reactor yields high-purity products that do not require subsequent finishing steps such as superfractionation distillation for removal of side products. The two companies have been working on the technology since 1994 and have optimized the process in pilot plants at SABIC research sites.


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Honeywell wins cockpit contract

Aircraft interior supplier C&D Aerospace has selected Honeywell's Spectra polyethylene-based composite material as the key ballistic material for new strengthened cockpit doors. C&D says that Spectra's light weight, strength, energy-absorbing characteristics, and record of success in bulletproof vests and tanks helped it win the contract. C&D engineers will work with Honeywell's staff to design a new door, expected to hit the market in two to three months. Honeywell estimates that enhanced aircraft safety systems, including the strengthened cockpit doors, could represent $500 million to $700 million in business for the commercial air transport market in the next five years.


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BASF slates Korean vitamins

BASF will set up a 3,000-metric-ton-per-year plant in Kunsan, South Korea, to manufacture vitamin B-2. The facility will go onstream in 2003, allowing BASF to put to other uses a 1,000-metric-ton plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF says the move is part of its effort to establish a center of competence in fermentation technologies in Kunsan. BASF's lysine facility, purchased from the South Korean firm Daesang in 1998, is also in Kunsan.


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BP rejiggers polypropylene

BP Chemicals will suspend 450 million lb per year of polypropylene capacity in Chocolate Bayou, Texas. The move follows an "extensive review" of its polypropylene business in North America. The company has U.S. polypropylene capacity of 2.8 billion lb per year. Separately, the European Commission has cleared both BP's acquisition of Solvay's polypropylene business and the joint venture between BP and Solvay in high-density polyethylene.


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Rhodia expands and contracts

Rhodia is forming a joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Zhangjiagang Hengchang Chemical to produce phosphorus derivatives. Rhodia will hold a 70% stake in a venture, called Rhodia-Hengchang (Zhangjiagang) Specialty Chemical Co., which will be based near Shanghai. Products will target markets in water treatment and flame retardants. Separately, the company is to close its aspirin plant in St. Louis and concentrate production in St.-Fons, France, and in Bangpoo, Thailand. Meanwhile, speculation about a sale of Rhodia continues, with the emergence of Clariant as another possible buyer. Earlier, BASF ruled out any bid, and DSM noted that, although it informally discussed the 25% stake held in Rhodia by Aventis, it is not ready to make any bid in the foreseeable future.


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Ineos seeks help on plant upgrade

Ineos, which in January bought ICI's Runcorn, England, chlorine plant, is seeking help from the British government to upgrade the plant and keep it running. Plant fundamentals are good, a spokesman says, but the company will need more than $900 million to pay for modernization projects, including a switch from mercury-cell to membrane technology. The company says it can fund half the cost of upgrading the plant, which produces about 80% of the U.K.'s caustic soda and chlorine. Ineos has launched a $95 million legal claim against ICI, alleging that the condition of the plant was much worse than it had been led to believe; ICI rejects the claim.


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Degussa lowers profit outlook

Facing weaker than expected results for its fiscal 2001, Degussa has stepped up restructuring efforts. The company is increasing a planned headcount reduction from 3,000 to 4,000, is temporarily closing six plants in Germany and abroad, and will shut eight unprofitable plants earlier than expected. Degussa says its operating result for the year will be "considerably lower" than in the previous fiscal year. Separately, following clearance by antitrust authorities, Degussa has wrapped up the sale of its ASTA Medica oncology operations to Baxter. The sale, for roughly $475 million, was announced in early August.


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Firms announce new leaders

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Porter

Avecia has appointed Robert W. Porter, 54, president of Avecia Inc., its U.S. subsidiary, replacing Warren A. Scott, who has retired after 36 years in the chemical industry. Porter joined Zeneca, Avecia's predecessor company, from DuPont in 1997. Graeme H. H. Donald, 54, has been named president and CEO of UOP, succeeding Humberto Vainieri, who is leaving the company. Most recently, Donald was vice president and general manager of Honeywell's performance fibers business. Joseph D. Rupp, 51, has been elected president and CEO of Olin Corp., effective Jan. 1, succeeding Donald W. Griffin, who will remain chairman of the board. Rupp joined Olin's brass division in 1972. Since March he has been Olin's executive vice president of operations.


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PCS invests in Chile's SQM

Fertilizer maker Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (PCS) has purchased 48 million class A shares of the Chilean inorganic chemicals producer Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) for about $129 million. The purchase represents about 34% of the class A shares and 18% of all the shares of SQM, a world leader in iodine, lithium chemicals, and nitrate fertilizers. The deal is PCS's second investment in the Chilean chemical industry; in 1999, it purchased Minera Yolanda, an iodine and nitrate project being developed in northern Chile. PCS says it is in the process of bringing the project onstream.


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ICI launches savings effort ...

With group pretax profits down 11% for the first nine months of the year and little likelihood of an economic upturn soon, ICI is beginning a major cost-cutting program. The program, set to be completed within the next two years, will deliver annualized savings of roughly $90 million and reduce working capital by more than $75 million. It will also trim the company's workforce by 1,300 people in addition to previously announced layoffs. Predictions are that about a third of the job losses will be in the U.S.


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... and sees delays in Huntsman deal

ICI says negotiations with Huntsman Corp. regarding the sale of ICI's investment in Huntsman International "have now reached a significant phase." As part of the talks, ICI has exercised its right to "put," or sell, its 30% stake in Huntsman International. However, ICI says proceeds are unlikely to be received this year and could well be deferred beyond 2002.


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New debt pact on Chandra Asri

The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) and Japan's Marubeni have once again come to an agreement over rescheduling the debt of Chandra Asri, which is Indonesia's sole ethylene complex. The two parties had failed to sign a binding contract after reaching similar agreements in June of last year and in April of this year. Under the plan, $440 million of the $540 million in debt owed by IBRA will be converted to equity. On the Japanese side, $150 million of the $780 million in debt will be converted to equity. After these changes, 76% of Chandra will be in Indonesian hands and 24% will remain with the Japanese, mainly Marubeni.


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Two deals in light-emitting polymers

Avecia will exercise its option to acquire the 85% of Covion Organic Semiconductors that it does not already own from Celanese. Covion manufactures small-molecule and polymer-based organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) used in mobile phones, laptops, and digital cameras. Avecia says the market for OLEDs should grow from $84 million today to $1.6 billion by 2007. Separately, Cambridge Display Technology has agreed to grant DuPont a nonexclusive license to its know-how to produce active and passive polymer display devices. The agreement also calls for DuPont to share its light-emitting polymer knowledge.


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BUSINESS ROUNDUP

  • Discovery Partners has signed a long-term research agreement with DuPont's crop protection business. It will provide chemical research services including synthesis, process research, lead compound development, and manufacturing for DuPont projects. The deal is the latest of 18 that Discovery signed in the second half of this year.
  • Kemira is to acquire the calcium sulfate pigment operations of Cargas Blancas from the Spanish company Yesos Ibericos. The 100,000-metric-ton-per-year calcium sulfate plant in northeastern Spain makes pigments used as fillers for fine-paper production. 
  • Takeda Chemical will launch a U.S. subsidiary, Takeda Research Investments of Palo Alto, Calif. The unit will invest up to $100 million in biotechnology start-ups in order to support Takeda's goal of becoming a "major player in the global pharmaceutical market." 
  • SNPE has opened a plant in Pithiviers, France, dedicated to the manufacture of pantoprazol, the active ingredient in an antiulcer drug made by the German firm Byk Gulden. 
  • Crompton Corp. will consolidate headquarters operations in Middlebury, Conn., by the end of 2002. Most of the 250 people working at the firm's Greenwich, Conn., location will be offered jobs in Middlebury.
  • Albemarle and Atofina Chemicals plan a joint venture in the field of organotin intermediates. It's expected to combine Albemarle's aluminum alkyl position with Atofina's tin intermediates capabilities to form an integrated producer of butyltin and octyltin stabilizers.


Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2001 American Chemical Society


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