A. Schulman announces regular cash dividend

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Board of Directors of A. Schulman, Inc., , a global plastic supplier, has declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of USD0.20 per common share, payable August 1, 2014, to shareholders of record on July 18, 2014, reported the company on its site.

Last year,the Board of Directors of A. Schulman, declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of USD0.20 per common share, payable November 4, 2013, to shareholders of record on October 28, 2013, which represented a 2.6% increase over the prior quarter's dividend payout. The dividend on an annualized basis now stands at USD0.80 per share, and represents a yield of approximately 3%.

As MRC reported earlier, last September, A. Schulman, Inc. purchased the Perrite Group, a thermoplastics manufacturing business with operations in Malaysia, the United Kingdom and France, for approximately USD52 million. Perrite was part of the Vita Group portfolio of companies. The acquisition was expected to increase revenues in A. Schulman's Asia Pacific (APAC) segment by 35% and doubled the size of the company's existing Engineered Plastics business in the region.

Perrite has manufactured and distributed thermoplastic compounds for the electrical, automotive and industrial markets for more than 35 years, offering a broad portfolio of standard and custom compounded polymer products. Perrite's product lines include the high-performance Ronfalin ABS brand and prime-quality polyamide Vitamide range. Other key brands include Percom polypropylene, Perlex polycarbonate, Styralin polystyrene and Pertal POM. Perrite employs approximately 220 people and recorded revenues of USD140 million in fiscal 2012.

A. Schulman is a global plastics supplier, headquartered in Akron, Ohio, and a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins, which are used as raw materials in a variety of markets. The company employs approximately 3,500 people and has 38 manufacturing facilities globally. A. Schulman reported net sales of USD2.1 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2013.

Engel and Fill to work together on future composites development

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Injection molding technology group Engel Holding GmbH has signed a partnership agreement with fiber preform machinery group Fill GmbH to cooperate on composites manufacturing, said Plasticsnews.

The two companies, both based in the Upper Austrian region, will work together to produce "turnkey solutions for the industrial manufacturing of fiber-reinforced plastic components," they said in a news release. "The aim of our partnership is to meet the demands of the market even more effectively and drive the industrialization of composite processes forward even faster," said Franz Fureder, vice president of Engel Austria’s automotive business unit. "We are delighted that in Fill we have found a partner whose technologies are also the world's best and who, like Engel, prioritizes research and development."

Fill, based in Gurten, Austria, makes a wide range of machinery, including metal machining and polyurethane processing equipment. For the automotive sector, it has developed resin transfer molding (RTM) technology as well as its Preformliner technology which converts two-dimensional fiber textiles into three dimensional forms. BMW AG uses Preformliner and high pressure RTM equipment from Fill in producing carbon fiber-reinforced plastic components for its BMW i3 and i8 cars.

Engel indicated the key role that fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) is playing in development of automotive lightweight construction. "At the moment, the biggest challenge is developing economic processes for the mass production of innovative composite parts," it said.

Injection molding could be a means to achieving lower process costs, and Schwertberg-based Engel said its system and automation expertise will now be enhanced by Fill’s expertise in the area of preform manufacturing and processing.

Engel has been involved in collaborative work with partner companies, universities and other research institutes in the field of automotive lightweight construction for a number of years. In 2012 it set up its own technology centre for lightweight composites at its large-scale machine factory in St. Valentin, Austria.

As MRC wrote before, Engel Holding GmbH announced a partnership with PME fluidtec GmbH of Germany in the field of water injection technology (WIT). The companies will work together on client-specific systems and worldwide sales.

Engel is, as a single brand, the largest producer of injection moulding machinery worldwide and a leader in the field of injection moulding technology. Engel"s integrated systems solutions include injection moulding machinery, automation, process technology, tool design, training and service. Engel supplies 50% of all large-scale machines and 35% of the small to medium-sized machines with automation included, and the figures are still rising.

Lanxess presents membrane elements for seawater desalination

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Specialty chemicals company Lanxess has introduced its new spiral-wound membrane elements for seawater desalination, as per the company's press release.

Jean-Marc Vesselle, Head of Lanxess' Liquid Purification Technologies business unit: "Seawater makes up some 97% of all the water on earth. The desalination of seawater for use in farming and in drinking water production is therefore a very attractive alternative. We expect a rapidly growing market in the years to come. Energy-efficient, eco-friendly desalination technologies like reverse osmosis play a major role in this field. For this and many other areas of water treatment, Lewabrane membrane elements are ideal in combination with our Lewatit range of ion exchange resins."

The family of products currently encompasses three grades of reverse osmosis (RO), which were specially developed for sweater desalination. Lanxess is producing the reverse osmosis elements at its German plant in Bitterfeld, which was opened in 2011. Main areas of application include the production of boiler feed water, wastewater treatment, groundwater remediation and full demineralization for microchip fabrication.

Prior to official market introduction, the new membrane elements were tested for several months in desalination plants on the Red Sea in Egypt. The new Lanxess elements meet or exceed the relevant industrial standards in continuous production under real conditions.

As MRC wrote previously, last July, Lanxess celebrated the opening of its first production facility in Russia. In the new plant at the Lipetsk site, Lanxess subsidiary Rhein Chemie manufactures polymer-bound rubber additives for the markets in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), primarily for the automotive and tire industries. A production facility for the bladders used in tire production is to be added in 2016. The overall investment volume in euros amounts to a seven-digit figure.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.3 billion in 2013 and roughly 17,300 employees in 31 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.

ExxonMobil Chemical begins expansion project in Baytown, Texas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil Chemical Company has announced that it has started construction of a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker at its Baytown, Texas, complex and associated premium product facilities in nearby Mont Belvieu, as per the company's statement.

The steam cracker will have a capacity of up to 1.5 million tons per year and provide ethylene feedstock for downstream chemical processing, including processing at two new 650,000 tons per year high performance polyethylene lines at the company’s Mont Belvieu plastics plant.

"The project is made possible in large part by abundant, affordable supplies of US natural gas for energy and chemical feedstock," said Steve Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. The chemical industry and other industrial sectors account for nearly 30% of US natural gas demand. "Shale development has provided US chemical producers a double benefit as an energy source and as a key raw material to make plastics and other essential products, creating jobs and economic activity across the value chain."

The project will employ about 10,000 construction workers, create 4,000 related jobs in nearby Houston communities and add 350 permanent positions at the Baytown complex. It is expected to increase regional economic activity by roughly USD870 million per year and generate more than USD90 million per year in additional tax revenues for local communities.

Contracts have been awarded for construction, which will begin immediately. Contracts have been awarded to Linde Engineering North America, Inc. and Bechtel Oil, Gas, and Chemicals, Inc. to build olefins recovery units at the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant. Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co, Ltd. and Huertey Petrochem S.A. will construct the new olefins furnaces. At the Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will construct two 650,000 tons-per-year high-performance polyethylene lines. Jacobs Engineering, Ltd. will oversee enabling works and interconnections at both locations. Dashiell Corporation and Wood Group Mustang will provide specialty contracting services.

The expansion, coupled with ExxonMobil’s global sales and technology support network, enables ExxonMobil Chemical to economically supply a rapidly growing demand for high-value polyethylene products. These premium products deliver sustainability benefits such as lighter packaging weight, lower energy consumption, and reduced emissions. ExxonMobil Chemical estimates exports could increase significantly as a result of the expansion. Production of these high-quality petrochemical products used in a wide range of consumer and industrial applications is expected to start in 2017.

To support the project’s need for skilled workers, ExxonMobil has committed USD1 million to the Community College Petrochemical Initiative, a training program offered by nine Houston-area community colleges to provide technical skills to high school graduates, returning military veterans and others. This program will involve 50,000 students and educators over the next five years.

As MRC informed earlier, ExxonMobil’s chemical plant in Singapore has been producing ethylene from the facility’s second world-scale steam cracker since mid-2013. The expansion is integrated with the existing petrochemical plants. Thus, the petrochemical complex, powered by a 375-megawatt cogeneration plant, increased production at its three polyethylene plants, two polypropylene plants, a specialty metallocene elastomers unit and the expanded oxo-alcohol and aromatics units.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

Output of products from polymers in Russia rose by 6.1% from January to May 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's production of finished products from polymers grew over the first five months of 2014. Producers of polymer films accounted for the main increase in the output, reported MRC analysts.

Production of key products from polymers in Russia rose by 6.1% from January to May 2014. Producers of polymer films still accounted for the main increase in the output, while there has been no growth in the construction sector since the beginning of the year.

According to the Federal State Statistics Service, May output of non-reinforced and non-combined films rose to 95,000 tonnes (in April - 91,600 tonnes). Thus, production of these products in Russia exceeded 400,000 tonnes from January to May 2014, up by 21% year on year.

May production of bottles, large bottles and flasks from polymers fell to 1.3 billion items (in April - 1.4 billion items). The overall Russia's production totalled about 5.9 billion of bottles, large bottles and flasks over five months of 2014, up by 5.9% year on year.

May output of plastic pipes, hoses and fittings dropped to 45,600 tonnes (in April - 49,600 tonnes). The overall production of these products reached 197,900 tonnes over the first five months of the year, down by 12.6% year on year.

Last month's production of plastic windows, their frames and sills rose up to 2.2 million square meters (in April - 2 million square meters). The output of plastic windows and window sills totalled about 8.5 million square meters from January to May 2014, down by 3.4% year on year.