Mexichem to buy PVC maker Vestolit in European expansion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexican PVC and specialty chemicals maker Mexichem SAB de CV has agreed to buy German PVC paste producer Vestolit GmbH from investment company Strategic Value Partners LLC (SVP Global) for 219 million euros (USD293 million), said Plasticsnews.

Based in Marl, Germany, Vestolit makes the PVC paste for flooring, wallpaper and underbody protection for cars, according to a news release from SVP. Greenwich, Conn.-based SVP started looking for a buyer for Vestolit in mid July.

"This transaction represents an opportunity to expand our presence in Europe, enter new market segments and acquire new technology and best practices," Mexichem said in a statement, posted on the Mexican Stock Exchange, noting that Vestolit has sales representatives in 35-plus countries.

Vestolit claims to be the only producer of high impact suspension PVC (HIS-PVC) for weather-resistant and energy-efficient windows and also produces alkyl-chlorides, "a value-added intermediary, used for a variety of chemical and industrial applications."

Its total installed capacity is 415,000 tons per year and in 2013 it had a sales of 477 million euros ($638.4 million), SVP said.

"Under SVP Global's ownership, the profitability of Vestolit has grown and the business has made a number of advances, such as completing its transition to more environmentally friendly membrane electrolysis production techniques," SVP added.

Mexichem, of Tlalnepantla, an industrial municipality close to Mexico City, is Latin America’s largest manufacturer of PVC pipe, vinyl resins and compounds. Neither it nor SVP mentioned when they expected the deal to be completed.
New York investment banking firm Jefferies LLC advised SVP. JP Morgan Chase & Co was Mexichem’s adviser.

Prices of European PP dropped by EUR20/tonne for CIS markets

MOSCOW (MRC) -- European polypropylene (PP) producers have announced prices cuts of EUR20/tonne from July for August shipments to the CIS markets at , according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

The August contract price for propylene in Europe was agreed by EUR20/tonne lower compared to July. Supply of PP has increased noticeably in the region by the end of the summer. As a consequence, European producers were forced to reduce PP prices by EUR20/tonne on the back of lower feedstock prices.

Deals for European homopolymers of propylene (homopolymer PP) were negotiated in the range of EUR1,230-1,280/tonne FCA this week. Offer prices of block copolymers (PP-impact) started from EUR1,300/tonne, FCA.

Some market participants said export quotas of European producers had grown substantially. At the same time, there was no a serious oversupply in the market.

Sanctions drive away banks as loans dry up

МOSCOW (MRC) -- No Russian companies received loans in U.S. dollars, Swiss francs or euros last month, the first time this has happened in at least five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Global banks fell away in the second quarter, with lending plunging 42 percent from a year earlier to $4.7 billion as the Ukraine conflict worsened after President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in March. That was the least for any quarter since 2012.

International lenders are weighing the political and financial consequences of doing business with Russian companies after the U.S. and European Union stepped up sanctions on the nation’s banking and energy industries because of the crisis in Ukraine. OAO VTB Bank’s plan to get a USD1.5 billion loan led by Barclays Plc will probably be scrapped, lawyers said last week. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Citigroup Inc. said Aug. 1 they’re scaling back their dealings with the country.

About USD28 billion was wiped from the value of the three Russian banks on the Micex stock index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. OAO Sberbank, the nation’s biggest lender, lost USD22.8 billion, the data show.

Russian companies paid an average interest margin of 287 basis points, or 2.87 percentage points, more than benchmark rates for internationally syndicated loans in the second quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 194 basis points in the same period a year earlier.

European banks may also steer clear of syndicated loans to the country to avoid potential penalties, even though such lending hasn’t been penalized.

Saudi petrochem producers margins to witness pressures

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In the medium-to-long-term, margins for Saudi petrochemical producers are likely to witness pressures, said Saudigazette, citing the National Commercial Bank.

The report said the pressures are due to four main factors: (1) the narrowing gap between non-associated gas and the average international price of shale gas, (2) recovering and additional capacity from regional economies, and others, including the UAE, Oman, China and the US rendering these petrochemical projects as direct competitors to the Saudi market, (3) feedstock scarcity of ethane, and (4) the increased costs of non-associated gas exploration and development.

The abundance of feedstock in the US has already seen Saudi companies such as SABIC express interest in entering the US market. This will have an effect on input prices, and consequently, changing feedstock availability will impact future Middle Eastern petrochemical investments, the report noted. This is likely to erode some of the absolute cost advantages that the sector enjoys over their peers in emerging and developed markets.

Moving forward, strategic partnering opportunities for Saudi producers with global players will accelerate investment and diversification into more sophisticated derivatives production, and enable Saudi petrochemical producers to move further downstream. As Saudi players do not have access to markets of specialized products yet, they will need to leverage market access through distributors in more mature markets like Asia, Europe and the US who will become more attractive for future acquisitions.

The majority of Saudi’s non-oil exports consist of petrochemicals, which include downstream plastic production and building materials. While Saudi’s petrochemical industry achieved a steady growth of 20 percent in the last five years, Saudi’s share of global petrochemical exports is estimated at 17 percent. According to industry insight, Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical industry exports are set to reach 100mn tons by 2016.

Ethylene is a key building block in the petrochemical industry. In recent years, the world has witnessed its largest ethylene capacity expansion, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 percent between 2007 and 2012, to reach 155.9 million tons in 2012.

In 2012, worldwide capacity additions were much lower than the record additions registered in 2010 when 11.4 million tons/year of ethylene capacity was added. However, GCC capacity addition in 2012 trended downwards by 13 percent.

The majority of capacity additions within the GCC be-tween 2007 and 2012 took place in Saudi Arabia, which accounted for 64 percent of the regional capacity additions. With 17.5 million tons/year, Saudi Arabia is the largest ethylene producer in the region, accounting for 72 percent of the regional ethylene capacity, up by 7.7 million tons/year compared to five years ago. This massive expansion in ethylene production capacity has resulted in Saudi Arabia becoming the third largest producer worldwide, ac-counting for 11 percent of global ethylene capacity.

Huntsman offers more EU concessions over USD1.1 billion Rockwood deal

MOSCOW (MRC) - U.S. chemical maker Huntsman Corp has offered more concessions in an attempt to secure European Union antitrust approval for its proposed USD1.1 billion purchase of Rockwood Holdings Inc's titanium dioxide pigment business, said Reuters.

The deal will make Huntsman the largest processor of sulfate ores, a key raw material which is also a cheaper alternative to chloride ores, and the number two player in titanium dioxide, behind DuPont.

This is the third set of concessions from Huntsman, following earlier proposals submitted to the European Commission in March and earlier this month, the EU competition authority's website showed on Wednesday.

The Commission did not provide details in line with its policy. It is scheduled to decide by Sept. 18 whether to clear or block the deal.

A person familiar with the matter said Huntsman's earlier concessions included an offer to divest units and the latest proposal could include more asset sales.

The Commission opened a broad investigation in March, concerned that the deal may result in higher prices in sulphate-based titanium dioxide, a pigment used as a whitener in products from toothpaste to cars.

Huntsman is a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals. The company's operating companies manufacture products for a variety of global industries, including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging.