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October 21, 2002
Volume 80, Number 42
CENEAR 80 42 p. 16
ISSN 0009-2347


String of changes takes place as industry seeks right formula


Several restructuring moves are taking place among leaders in the Japanese chemical industry.

NEW SUPPLIER Industrial gases used at Mitsubishi Chemicals' Kashima complex will no longer come from captive firm.
Showa Denko says it will become the world's largest producer of computer hard disks by acquiring Mitsubishi Chemical's hard disk business. Mitsubishi produces up to 2.1 million hard disks per month in Singapore. Showa Denko produces up to 3.2 million units in Ichihara, Japan.

Mitsubishi has also sold its wholly owned industrial gas business in Japan to Kashima Sanso, in which Mitsubishi has a 60% stake. But the owner of the other 40% of Kashima, Taiyo Toyo Sanso, will raise its stake to 70% next spring. Kashima, with projected annual sales of $62 million, will be renamed TM Air. It supplies Mitsubishi's four Japanese petrochemical complexes.

Showa Denko is also buying out DuPont Dow Elastomers' stake in two Japanese joint ventures. One, equally owned by the two partners, manufactures polychloroprene (Neoprene) in Kawasaki and has annual sales of about $40 million. The other venture, 70% owned by DuPont Dow, markets elastomers.

Separately, DuPont and Teijin will shut down Teijin DuPont Nylon KK, a 40-year-old, equally owned nylon venture with a capacity of 41,000 metric tons and sales of about $100 million. Teijin will assume full control of the venture on Nov. 1 and then agree with unions on the exact schedule of the 2003 closure of its facilities in Mihara. DuPont and Teijin will provide jobs to the workers.

Masahiro Yoneyama, a chemical industry analyst with SRI Consulting in Tokyo, says he doesn't see a common thread among the flurry of changes. Still, he expects more change in Japan over the next two years because demand is weakening and competition from foreign producers is intensifying.--


Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2002 American Chemical Society

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