BASF to divest global textile chemicals business to Archroma

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF, the German chemicals giant, and Archroma have agreed on the sale of BASF’s global textile chemicals business to Archroma, a supplier of specialty chemicals to the textile, paper and emulsions industries, reported BASF on its site.

Archroma is a portfolio company of SK Capital Partners, a private investment firm with focus on the specialty materials, chemicals and healthcare sectors. It is planned to integrate the business into the Archroma Textile Chemicals Specialties business. Currently, the textile chemicals business is part of BASF’s Performance Chemicals division.

The transaction is subject to approval by the relevant antitrust authorities and the closing is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2015. The parties have agreed not to disclose financial details.

The transaction comprises the global textile chemicals business, as well as the legal entity BASF Pakistan (Private) Ltd., Karachi. This step is in line with BASF’s strategy of actively managing its portfolio and it will further sharpen the focus of the Performance Products segment on growth driven customer industries.

The textile chemicals business of BASF offers solutions to the full textile processing value chain, which includes a portfolio for pre-treatment, printing, finishing and coating. The business has a global presence with a strong focus on Asian growth markets, and is headquartered in Singapore.

As MRC wrote previously, in December 2014 BASF signed a contract to sell its Vinuran PVC modifier business to Kaneka Belgium N.V., a subsidiary of Kaneka Corporation, Japan. The transaction comprises intangible assets and inventory. It does not include a transfer of the production assets or employees in Ludwigshafen. The acrylate-based Vinuran PVC modifier business is not a core business for BASF. The transaction allows BASF to focus on growth of its acrylate-based dispersions portfolio.

Archroma is a global color and specialty chemicals company, headquartered in Reinach near Basel, Switzerland. It operates with approximately 3,000 employees over 35 countries. Through its three businesses: Textile Specialties, Paper Solutions and Emulsion Products, Archroma delivers specialized performance and color solutions to meet customer needs in their local markets.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It 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. BASF had sales of about EUR74 billion in 2013 and over 112,000 employees as of the end of the year.

Asahi Kasei to expand in US with second plastic compound plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei Chemicals hold a groundbreaking ceremony on September 29, 2014, for a plant for plastic compounds in Athens, Alabama, as the second plant of its US subsidiary Asahi Kasei Plastics North America, Inc. (APNA), said Plastemart.

The ceremony was attended by Mr. Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and Mr. Kazuo Sunaga, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, as well as key personnel of APNA and Asahi Kasei Chemicals.
Background. Having identified an expansion of compounding operations as a critical element in the strategic growth of its engineering plastics business, Asahi Kasei Chemicals has expanded its compounding facilities in Asia as well as in Michigan, where APNA is based. Construction of the second North American plant for compounds in Alabama will enable increased supply to meet customer needs in the Southern US, where demand growth is most notable.

As MRC informed earlier, Asahi Kasei Chemicals has developed AZP as a new optical polymer featuring zero birefringence achieved through novel molecular design. Manufacturing facilities for AZP will be constructed at the company’s Chiba Plant (Sodegaura, Chiba, Japan), with start-up scheduled for early next year. Applications for AZP are anticipated in high-performance displays and various optical components.

Outside North America, Asahi Kasei Chemicals has operating bases for plastic compounds in Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, and Belgium. The company will continue to develop high-quality and high-performance products in accordance with market needs, while studying ways to further expand its supply infrastructure.

Imports of linear polyethylene in Russia increased by 5% in January - September 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) in Russia grew by 5% in the first nine months of this year.
A significant increase in demand for LLDPE was seen from the producers of the overall products, the key sector - films production grew only by 5%, according to MRC DataScope report.

September imports of LLDPE in the Russian market exceeded 20,000 tonnes, compared with 15,700 tonnes in August. Total LLDPE imports in the country increased to 154,800 tonnes in January - September 2014, compared to 147,100 tonnes year on year. Key customers - producers of films increased their purchases only by 5%, while the demand for polyethylene from producers of overall products grew by 19%.

Structure of LLDPE over the reported period was as follows.

September film LLDPE imports in Russia increased to 17,000 tonnes (13,800 tonnes in August) on the back of the bigger supply from the Middle Eastern producers. Total film LLDPE imports in the country were 135,400 tonnes in the first nine months of this year, compared with 129,100 tonnes year on year.

September imports of LLDPE for rotational moulding (production of overall products) in Russia were 1,400 tonnes, from 1,000 tonnes in August. Total imports of LLDPE for rotational moulding in the country were 9,800 tonnes in the first nine months of the year, up 19% year on year. Key position in this market hold two Asian producers: Lotte Chemical and SCG Chemicals.

Imports of LLDPE in the other sectors of consumption (lamination, cable extrusion, compounding, extrusion of pipes, etc.) declined to 9,600 tonnes in the first nine months of the year, compared to 9,800 tonnes in the same time a year earlier.


Ineos acquires majority interest in Shale Gas licence in Scotland from Reach Coal Seam Gas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos Upstream Limited has signed an agreement with Reach Coal Seam Gas Limited (Reach CSG) to acquire an 80% interest in Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) 162, in the Midland Valley of Scotland, reported the company on its site.

This licence area of 400 km2 is next to PEDL 133, in which Ineos already owns a 51% stake of the shale layer. As part of the deal, Ineos will be the operator of the licence, and will fund the initial appraisal activity (consisting of 2 vertical science wells and 100 km2 of 3D seismic).

The deal is subject to relevant regulatory approvals, and is expected to complete within the next few weeks.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has identified significant shale gas and oil resources in this area via the recent Midland Valley of Scotland report. The key objective of the first phase of appraisal is to determine whether these resources can be economically extracted.

'Ineos Upstream’ is Ineos’ new oil and gas exploration and production business. The Business made its first move into the shale exploration on 18 August with the purchase of a share of the shale section of PEDL 133. The licence covers 329 square kilometres of the Midland Valley of Scotland, which includes Ineos’ Grangemouth refining and petrochemical complex and the surrounding area.

Ineos Upstream CEO, Gary Haywood said, "I am delighted to have concluded this deal in Scotland, which is a very good fit with our existing licence interest in the adjoining PEDL 133. We are keen to move quickly to evaluate the potential of this resource, and determine if we can economically produce gas from this area. If we can, it will provide a local source of competitive energy and raw materials to support manufacturing jobs in Scotland. Our recent commitment to share the benefits of the gas production with the landowners and the community will also bring significant local benefits."

As MRC wrote previously, Ineos has recently announced plans to give 6% of its shale gas revenues to homeowners, landowners & communities who live above its Shale gas operations. Ineos anticipates being a major player in the shale gas industry and believes it will give away over GBP2.5 billion over the life of its business.

Ineos Group Limited is a privately owned multinational chemicals company consisting of 15 standalone business units, headquartered in Rolle, Switzerland and with its registered office in Lyndhurst, United Kingdom. It is the fourth largest chemicals company in the world measured by revenues (after BASF, Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell) and the largest privately owned company in the United Kingdom.

EU reopens pricing probe into ethanol companies

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The European Union rekindled a probe into possible rigging of fuel-price benchmarks, raiding ethanol companies 17 months after officials inspected three oil producers and industry publisher Platts, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

European Commission investigators on Oct. 7 made surprise inspections on companies involved in the production, distribution and trading of ethanol, the regulator said in a statement. The EU said it’s concerned that price benchmarks may have been distorted due to possible collusion when pricing data was submitted to a price-reporting agency.

The unannounced inspections revitalize a probe into benchmark energy prices produced daily by Platts that has seemingly been dormant for more than a year. EU investigators in May of last year raided Platts along with BP, Statoil, Royal Dutch Shell, Argos Energies and Abengoa, owner of continental Europe’s biggest bioethanol plant.

Copycat probes followed on from last year’s EU raids. The US Federal Trade Commission and the Japanese Fair Trade Commission started quizzing BP in June of 2013. The Korea Fair Trade Commission opened an investigation in December and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission requested price-reporting documents from BP the following month.

The EU didn’t identify the companies or countries involved in this week’s inspections.

Following last year’s announcement, Platts said its price assessment process was "robust and specifically designed to safeguard against distortion."