BASF announces cash offer to acquire specialized enzyme biotechnology company Verenium

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF, the world's petrochemical major, has announced that its US affiliate, BASF Corporation, has entered into an agreement to commence a cash tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of common stock of the biotechnology company Verenium Corporation for USD4.00 per share, according to the company's press release.

Based on all outstanding shares and including all net financial liabilities, the enterprise value would be approximately USD62 million (approximately EUR48 million). Verenium is based in San Diego, California, and generated sales of USD57 million in 2012.

The offer corresponds to a premium of 56% above the volume-weighted average share price for Verenium’s shares in the six months prior to announcement of the transaction. The tender offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including the acquisition of a majority of Verenium’s shares outstanding as of the closing of the tender offer.

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013. BASF will finance the transaction out of operating cash.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. Each of the directors and certain officers of Verenium have entered into support agreements and will tender all their shares.

Combining Verenium’s scientific and technological excellence with BASF’s enzyme activities and its global access into all relevant markets will strengthen BASF’s footprint in the strategic enzyme growth market.

Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts, enabling or accelerating biological and chemical processes. They are used in the development of sustainable solutions in a variety of applications, e.g. detergents, human and animal nutrition.

As MRC wrote previsouly, BASF has recently inaugurated its new research facilities in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina at a grand opening ceremony. This USD33 million expansion includes 80,000 square feet of office, laboratory and greenhouse facilities.

Earlier this year, the company set up a new Coatings Technical Competence Center ASEAN in Bangkok, Thailand. This new facility supports technical and laboratory activities mainly in motorcycle coatings including technology transfer, product development, performance testing, color design and development.

BASF is the largest diversified chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.

New HDPE resins available for shrink film applications

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Braskem (Sao Paulo, Brazil) has launched a new range of HDPE resins for shrink film applications., said Plasteurope.

The company said the "HD7600" resins, which contain LDPE and LLDPE as well as HDPE, are designed to provide good stiffness and shrinkability. Their main benefit, it added, is that they have a low gel content which ensures a compact, tear-resistant package with no surface marks and good clarity for viewing the packaged product.

The range contains two products, HD7600U and HD7600M, which Braskem produces at its sites in Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil and Bahia in northeast Brazil respectively.

As MRC wrote before, Braskem is participating in the bidding to acquire the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) assets of Belgium's Solvay in South America. Braskem said the negotiations had not yet concluded and it could not say when they would be completed.

Braskem is the leading producer of thermoplastic resins in Latin America and the US, following its purchase of polypropylene assets of Dow Chemical. The company serves 70% of Brazilian demand in PP, PE and PVC resins, but foreign resin imports have gained Brazilian market share in recent years. Brazil's annual consumption of PP is estimated at 1.4 million tons this year. Braskem has been a target of criticism by plastics processors over its perceived dominance of the resins market. Brazil's import tariff on foreign PP is 14%, but could increase. Brazil's federal government raised the import tariff on PE in late 2012 from 14-20%.

Saudi minister indicates delay on Jazan refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia's 400,000 bpd refinery and terminal in Jazan on the Red Sea will be completed within four years, the kingdom's oil minister Ali al-Naimi has said, indicating a delay in the long expected mega plant, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Saudi Aramco said in 2012 the complex was scheduled to be completed in late 2016. It has signed engineering, procurement and construction contracts for the project.

However, industry sources have said the refinery is facing some delays in the infrastructure.

The Jazan refinery will provide refined products for the domestic market, which is facing rapidly rising demand. The marine terminal will have the capacity to handle very large crude carriers for the supply of crude oil to the refinery, and berths to support refined product exports from the refinery.

The project was initially due to be implemented by the Saudi government as a private sector initiative but, after generating limited interest, was handed over to Aramco.

Saudi Arabia, the Middle East's biggest economy, has seen its domestic energy requirements surge in recent years as the government spent oil revenues on new industries and infrastructure to diversify the local economy and as the kingdom's population grows.

Aramco, top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, plans to invest USD35 billion over the next five years in crude oil exploration and development in a bid to keep its oil production portfolio robust, the firm's chief executive, Khalid al-Falih, said last year.

As MRC informed earlier, in late 2012, Petrofac received two engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts from Saudi Aramco to work on the Jazan Refinery and Terminal project in Saudi Arabia. The two contracts are worth about USD1.4bn and will be executed from Petrofac's Saudi Arabian office. The scope of the contracts includes delivery of tank farms in the north and south areas of the project.

Grangemouth bosses launch survival plan for Ineos site

MOSCOW (MRC) --Chemicals giant Ineos has asked the Scottish and UK governments for grants and loan guarantees of GBP150m to build a new gas terminal, said BBC.

The firm said its petrochemical site in Grangemouth is "unsustainable" and will close by 2017 without new investment. It has put forward a "survival plan", saying it was willing to invest GBP350m to help build a new gas terminal to bring ethane from the United States.

Unite members at the site have voted for strike action. They are currently in a stand-off with Ineos over the treatment of union official and Ineos employee Stephen Deans.

However, following Friday's vote for industrial action, Ineos has said it is asking workers to "play their part" in the survival plan for the site at Grangemouth. Ineos wants staff to accept changes to pay and pensions, including the scrapping of the existing final salary pension scheme and the introduction of a money purchase scheme.

The company said it also intended to close a number of plants and reduce its head count.

The company is looking for GBP9m in grants from the Scottish government, and more than GBP125m in loan guarantees from the UK government.

There are 700 people currently work at the petro-chemical plant, and while a cut in numbers is part of the plan, a spokesman would not say how big the reduction would be.

Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of Unite the union, said it is willing to talk about the challenges facing the Ineos plant, but only after resolving the current dispute over the treatment of its official.

As MRC wrote before, Ineos is considering closing its Grangemouth facility in what has been described by union representatives as a "shocking" attempt to browbeat the work. Company chairman Jim Ratcliffe described the plant as "expensive", citing "old-fashioned pensions" as a being a prime cause for concern. He was quoted as saying: "To have a future, it needs cheap feedstocks and a sensible cost structure. If we can’t resolve those issues it would need to shut down."


McDonald's to use paper cups rather than polystyrene foam cups

MOSCOW (MRC) -- McDonald's has agreed to use paper cups rather than polystyrene foam cups to hold hot drinks at all its 14,000 US outlets following a concerted campaign by green groups.

The move comes after sustainable shareholder advocacy group As You Sow filed a shareholder proposal in 2011 asking the company to stop using the foam, which had already been phased out from its hamburger boxes in the 1990s.

After the resolution gained 30 per cent of shareowners' vote McDonald's last year trialled double-walled paper hot cups at around 2,000 restaurants mainly on the West Coast. Having dubbed the pilot successful, the company last week announced the paper cup will now become the standard hot beverages cup at all its US outlets.

Polystyrene is not widely recycled in the US and is increasingly finding its way into the oceans through storm drains, where tides and currents pummel it into small, indigestible pellets that can be fatal to marine wildlife. A number of cities in California have outlawed or restricted the use of the material, while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a city-wide ban. Meanwhile, what was hailed as the world's first coffee cup recycling plant opened earlier this year in the UK.

Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, congratulated McDonald's on ditching polystyrene but urged to company to consider taking further action to keep up with its rivals.

While McDonald's uses recycled fibres for its food containers, bags, and napkins, Starbucks uses 10 per cent recycled paper fibre in its paper hot beverage cups and has committed to recycle all post-consumer paper and plastic cups discarded in company-owned stores by 2015. The company also offers a discount for customers who bring reusable beverage containers into stores.