The Dow Chemical to invest in a Packaging Center of Excellence in Switzerland

(Dow) -- The Dow Chemical Company is continuing to invest in a ⌠Packaging Center of Excellence in Horgen, Switzerland to better serve the needs of the packaging industry across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Dow is doubling the staff of its packaging center to a total of approximately 20-25 people, and significantly expanding its capabilities for testing and prototyping adhesive laminating and film structures for food and beverage packaging needs.

The packaging center combines the extensive scientific and technical expertise of Dow's people, along with equipment and collaboration space for specialty adhesives, resins and formulated films in one place. It will also enhance customers' ability to test materials and formulations for new package functionality and design. The Center also will hold seminars and forums that will allow package makers and brand owners and others to occasionally share insights about the future needs of the packaging industry.

Dow will be sharing additional details of the Packaging Center for Excellence with customers across the European Region throughout the summer.


Chinese manufacturing plant of Reifenhauser to expand

(Plastics Today) -- Reifenhauser's (Troisdorf, Germany) Chinese manufacturing plant for blown film lines is in the process of shipping its last two lines. Reifenhauser had acquired an adjacent site for expansion but the local government is now taking back land including Reifenhauser's existing site due to its proximity to an under-construction subway line.

This in fact turns out to be an opportune turn of events for Reifenhauser, given it was planning to reassess its strategy in China. "It might take three to four more months longer than initially intended but this gives us the opportunity to relocated to a single larger site, says Singapore-base Reifenhauser Private Ltd. managing director Jurgen Rehkopf, who was speaking to PlasticsToday at the Chinaplas show in Guangzhou. "Whatever we do, it will be based on high-tech solutions," adds Rehkopf.

In the past, most of Reifenhauser's production in China has been exported but the company does intend to re-evaluate local competition, hinting that moving forward it might have a greater focus on the local market. The refocus is also timely given it has been around one year after the debut of the Reifenhauser Kiefel Evolution film line, notes Rehkopf.


US-based Dow Chemical is aiming to sell its polypropylene business

(ICIS) -- US-based Dow Chemical is aiming to sell its polypropylene (PP) business and its PP catalyst licensing business separately, sources in the financial community said on Tuesday. ⌠They are bringing the PP business and the PP catalyst licensing business to market separately, said one source. US-based investment bank Citi is handling the sales, sources said. While Dow has not officially said its PP business is for sale, it has hinted at a divestiture.

⌠Commodity plastics that have anything to do with propylene ­or ethylene, in the long-term, will not be in Dow's future, said Dow chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris, on the company's first-quarter
conference call in late April.

While Liveris would not identify which plastics businesses were being considered for divestiture, its PP and high density PE (HDPE) units were classified under ⌠basic plastics in its first-quarter earnings presentation.


Global M&A activity is rising to pre-crisis levels

(ICIS) -- Global chemicals merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is rising to pre-crisis levels, with most of the deals driven by industry rather than finance, Tom Crotty, group director at Swiss-headquartered INEOS, said on Wednesday. ⌠M&A was a natural part of our lives until 2007, he told delegates at the Global Petrochemicals annual meeting, organised by the World Refining Association (WRA). ⌠It went away but it's back.

In the first four months of 2011, there were USD 50bn (EUR 35bn) of announced deals in the sector, the equivalent to the pre-crisis deal rate of 2007, Crotty said.

In addition, as producers emerge from the downturn, many are seeking to restructure their businesses to cut costs and prepare for the next set of unpredictable events, Crotty said.

While there have been some major deals announced by financial institutions, the largest of which is Berkshire Hathaway's USD 9.7bn bid for US lubricants and specialty chemicals company Lubrizol, most of the deals are being driven by industry.

Recently-announced, industry-driven deals include Solvay's USD 4.8bn agreement to buy Rhodia and Clariant's USD 2.7bn bid for Sud-Chemie.


China's NBA prices have been falling for nearly a month

(ICIS) -- China's n-butanol (NBA) prices have been falling for nearly a month, shedding 6.5%, because of weak demand, with sellers struggling not to incur losses, market sources said on Wednesday.

NBA prices were at yuan (CNY) 12.600/tonne (USD 1.935/tonne) EXW (ex-works) in east China at the close of business on 17 May, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

Current prices are nearing sellers' cost, bolstering expectations that values will finally stabilise by end-May at around CNY11.500/tonne, market sources said.

Sellers and producers said they hope demand will start to pick up in June to buoy up prices and enable them to recover some margins.

Throughout May, however, demand will be dismal, with traders and downstream producers laden with high inventory, market sources said.