Evonik makes automotive clear coats even more scratch-resistant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik Industries, a leading specialty chemicals manufacturer, is paving the way for a new technology whose applications include automotive finishes that are more scratch-resistant than ever before, reported the company in its press release.

The specialty chemicals company has developed an industrial-scale method for producing silane-modified binders for automotive finishes. The advantage of these silane-modified binders: silane groups increase crosslinking density, making it possible to create automotive finishes that are flexible yet harder, leading to improved scratch resistance.

The basic concept behind the new technology was already known: modifying classic binders with silanes noticeably improves the binder properties. This also applies to the polyurethane binders typically used for automotive finishes. Up to now, however, production of silane-modified polyurethane binders has been so complex and expensive that these products have only been made on a small scale for applications such as high-performance adhesives. For more general uses and for large-scale applications such as automotive finishes, however, there simply has not been enough available. The new technology from Evonik stands to change all of that.

Gerd Brand, head of the Crosslinkers Business Line within the Coatings & Additives Business Unit at Evonik, says: "The key factors in our success have been Evonik’s comprehensive expertise in silane and isocyanate chemistry, our understanding of the market, and our intense collaboration with prominent players in the automotive and coatings industries."

As MRC wrote before, with a level of purity approaching 99%, SEPURAN green high performance polymers from Evonik Industries make biogas processing much more efficient. For this achievement, the company has received the 2013 German Innovation Prize for climate and the environment in the "Environmentally friendly technologies" category.

Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. Its activities focus on the key megatrends health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization. Evonik benefits specifically from its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In fiscal 2013 more than 33,500 employees generated sales of around EUR12.9 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about EUR2.0 billion.

Hanwha mulls acquisition of Dow Chemical chloro-alkali business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hanwha Chemical, one of South Korea's leading polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride producers, has picked Credit Suisse to advise on possible purchases from Dow Chemical's chloro-alkali business but its interest is still in the early stages, reported Reuters with reference to a Hanwha spokesman's statements.

The spokesman for Hanwha said no details had been decided.

As MRC informed previously, Dow Chemical, the largest US chemical maker by sales, said in December 2013 it would separate its chlorine-related assets including its epoxy business as the company focuses on higher-margin activities. The chlorine assets account for as much as USD5 billion of annual revenue and include plants at 11 sites employing almost 2,000 people.

Dow also said it had hired financial advisers to look at options for the assets including sales, joint ventures and spinoffs. It expects to complete transactions for the assets in the next year or two.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. As of 2007, it is the second-largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue (after BASF) and as of February 2009, the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization (after BASF and DuPont). Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

German chemical firms see more recovery in 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German chemical companies are expecting further recovery in 2014 after production growth accelerated in the fourth quarter of last year, said Hydrocarbonprocessing, citing Utz Tillmann, head of the VCI German chemical lobby group.

Chemical production rose 2.6% in January year-on-year, after a 3.7% gain in the fourth quarter, according to Tillmann.

VCI, which represents 1,650 German chemical companies including BASF and Lanxess, reiterated a full-year forecast for chemical sales to gain 1.5%, as the industry sells more for a lower average price. The increase in production at the end of last year and the beginning of this year looks like a real recovery in demand and not a sign that customers are just refilling inventories, Tillmann said.

As MRC informed before, sales of BASF Group in 2013 rose by just under 3% to reach EUR74.0 billion. EBIT before special items in 2013 rose by EUR543 million to EUR7.2 billion. Net income amounted to EUR4.8 billion, slightly above the previous year’s level.

"At the moment, the prospects for 2014 are good for the industry," Tillmann said at a press conference in Frankfurt, where the organization is based. "The upward trend from the end of the year is continuing. All segments of the chemical industry are noticing a revival. We expect increasing demand for chemicals at home and abroad, especially from European industrial customers."

Chemical production will probably increase 2% with selling prices dropping 0.5%, leading to the gain of 1.5% in sales to 191.5 billion euros (USD265.6 billion), VCI reiterated.

Fourth-quarter sales in Germany’s chemical industry rose 3% compared with a year earlier, while selling prices dropped 2.6%, VCI said. The industry employed 436,500 people at the end of the quarter, 0.5% more than a year earlier.


Kronos Worldwide announces fourth Quarter 2013 Results

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kronos Worldwide, Inc. reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2013 of USD2.9 million,compared to a net loss of USD18.1 million, in the fourth quarter of 2012, said the producer in its press release.

For the full year of 2013, Kronos Worldwide reported a net loss of USD102.0 million, compared with net income of USD218.5 million in 2012. Comparability of the full year periods was impacted by lower income from operations in 2013, principally due to lower average TiO2 selling prices, higher raw materials and other production costs and a litigation settlement charge in 2013, as discussed further below.

Net sales of USD368.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 were USD28.2 million, or 7%, lower than in the fourth quarter of 2012. Net sales of USD1,732.4 million in the full year of 2013 were USD243.9 million, or 12%, lower than in the full year 2012. Net sales decreased in the full year of 2013 primarily due to lower average TiO2 selling prices, partially offset by higher sales volumes.

As MRC wrote before, Kronos is also one of the largest suppliers of TiO2 to the Russian market. Russian converters' most popular grade is Kronos 2220, which is used in the production of rigid compounds.

Kronos Worldwide, Inc is a global producer and marketer of titanium dioxide pigments (TiO2), a base industrial product used in a range of applications. The company produces more than 40 grades of TiO2. The company deliveres TiO2 to more than 100 countries in the world, but most of them are supplied to Europe and North America.

Veka Group buying profile competitor Gealan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Germany-based Veka Group will take over one of its competitors, Gealan Holding GmbH, in a deal that will move all Gealan subsidiaries and activities in Europe to one of the leading extruders of PVC-U profile systems for doors and windows, according to the press release of Veka.

Veka will see its staff grow by 1,150 employees and expects its annual turnover to increase from EUR793 million (USD1.1 billion) in 2013 to more than EUR1 billion (USD1.4 billion) following the acquisition of Gealan from financial investor Halder Beratungsbeteiligung.

The pending takeover still needs approval from authorities. The parties have agreed to keep the terms confidential.
Veka officials say they will bolster their position in Germany, Europe and the world by acquiring an established, well-known competitor that recently adopted a differentiation strategy.

"As an essential partner for European window manufacturers, we have to face the challenges of the market. That’s why we are strengthening our own competitive situation and, by combining our extensive expertise in profile technology, we will tap further market potential and opportunities for turnover," Veka Group CEO Andreas Hartleif said in a statement.

The acquisition also contributes to consolidation of the market place, he added. Internationally, Veka sells PVC-U structural elements to more than 2,200 specialized companies.

The family-owned business currently employs more than 3,600 people at 25 subsidiaries on three continents around the world. The North American operations are known as Veka Inc. and are based in Fombell, Penn.

Joe Peilert, president and CEO of Veka Inc., sees immediate advantages coming out of the Gealan acquisition.
"It means that we will soon benefit from the rich, comprehensive experience and profound expertise of both companies in the areas of extrusion, profile technology, and market development," Peilert said in a statement.

As MRC wrote before, Veka Recycling is investing almost Euro 1.2 million (USD1.6 million) in its south-east England facility to produce high-quality recyclate suitable for PVC extruded products. A new compounding line will enable the company to supply European markets with PVC pellets derived from post-industrial or post-consumer window frame material.

VEKA is a world leader in PVC extrusion technology with 18 plants worldwide, and is headquartered in Sendenhorst, Germany. VEKA Inc., based in Fombell, Pennsylvania, is corporate headquarters for North America and heads up three manufacturing facilities as well as various product divisions.