Celanese supports federal initiative for advanced composites manufacturing innovation

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global technology and specialty materials company and a global leader in vinyl acetate ethylene (EVA) emulsions, has announced its support of a multi-year initiative to advance composites manufacturing capabilities through a public-private effort between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and consortium members that includes five states, five universities, and numerous corporate partners, as per the company's press release.

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), led by The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was selected by the US DOE to become a national institute aimed at creating better composite materials and technologies for rapid deployment within the automotive, wind turbine and compressed gas storage industries. Celanese is among the consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits, and universities led by the University. IACMI will work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, and more efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for advanced composites.

"Celanese is a global leader in the development and manufacturing of advanced materials that today are used to help reduce weight, improve efficiency and drive innovation in the auto industry," said Scott Sutton, vice president and general manager of the engineered materials business of Celanese. "We see this public-private partnership as an opportunity to support composite materials advancements and manufacturing that can help the auto industry develop the next generation of low-emission, fuel-efficient, safe and affordable vehicles."

As MRC wrote previously, last year, Celanese Corporation developed new emulsion products for architectural paints. The company also expanded its product portfolio for the coatings and adhesives industries, including Celansese's solvents, vinyl acetate monomer, EVA polymers and emulsions.

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Texas, Celanese employs approximately 7,400 employees worldwide and had 2013 net sales of USD6.5 billion.

Lanxess may sell stake in rubber unit to Saudi Aramco

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German chemical company Lanxess is discussing the sale of a minority stake in its synthetic-rubber unit with potential buyers including Saudi Arabian Oil Co., according to people with knowledge of the matter, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Two proposals have already been submitted, with one party interested in a stake of about 40%, said two people, who asked not to be identified because details of the sale process are private. Lanxess confirmed in an e-mailed statement that it’s in talks with potential partners for its synthetic-rubber business, which generated about EUR4.5 billion (USD5.1 billion) in 2014 sales. The company didn't give more details.

Lanxess CEO Matthias Zachert is looking for a partner with access to cheap crude-oil and gas-related raw materials amid overcapacity and pressure on prices in the market for synthetic rubber used in car tires.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest crude exporter, would have the financial clout to aggressively expand the business globally to take on low-cost competitors in emerging markets, including India’s Reliance and Russia’s Sibur.

For Saudi Aramco, teaming up with Lanxess would be a significant step in its ambition to move from oil production toward chemicals and products closer to the consumer. It would help the company emulate petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp., which set up a partnership with ExxonMobil in 1980.

As MRC informed before, in July 2013, Lanxess opened ts 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.

Coca-Cola reported fourth quarter and full-year 2014 results

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Coca-Cola Company reported fourth quarter and full-year 2014 operating results, said the company in its press release.

Comparable currency neutral net revenues (structurally adjusted) grew 4% in the quarter driven by positive price/mix and the impact of one additional selling day. We delivered favorable price/mix of 2 points, after adjusting for items impacting comparability, primarily attributable to 4 points of positive price/mix in North America driven by our continued rational approach to pricing and supported by incremental media investments and improving
commercial execution.

Comparable currency neutral operating income (structurally adjusted) grew 7% in the quarter driven by comparable currency neutral net revenue (structurally adjusted) growth, a slight benefit from commodity costs and efficient management of operating expenses, partially offset by continued investments in our brands including a double-digit increase in media investments. Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates resulted in a 7 point headwind
on comparable operating income growth during the quarter.

The reported effective tax rates for the quarter and full year were 28.3% and 23.6%, respectively. The underlying annual effective tax rate was 22.5% for the quarter and full year. The variance between the reported rates and the underlying rate was due to the tax effect of various items impacting comparability, separately disclosed in the Reconciliation of GAAP and Non-GAAP Financial Measures schedule. The underlying effective tax rate does
not reflect the impact of significant or unusual items and discrete events, which, if and when they occur, are separately recognized in the appropriate period.

Reported EPS was USD0.17 and comparable EPS was USD0.44 for the quarter. Items impacting comparability reduced reported EPS by a net USD0.27 and were primarily related to the impact of changing the exchange rate used to remeasure our Venezuelan subsidiary’s net monetary assets into U.S. dollars, a write-down on concentrate sales receivables from our bottling partner in Venezuela, noncash charges related to refranchising certain territories in North America and costs associated with our previously announced productivity program. Foreign currency was a 10 point headwind on comparable EPS growth during the quarter.

Full-year cash from operations was USD10.6 billion, up 1%, primarily due to the efficient management of working capital and cycling incremental pension contributions last year, partially offset by an unfavorable impact from foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations and the deconsolidation of the Company’s Brazilian bottling operations in July 2013. Full-year net share repurchases totaled USD2.6 billion.

As MRC wrote before, Coca-Cola Enterprises will invest EUR6.5 million in its joint venture with PET recycler APPE to expand a recycling facility in Beaune, France. According to Coca-Cola, the investment will boost the capacity of the plastics reprocessing facility by 70% and enable it to recycle 20,000 additional tonnes of plastic into food-grade packaging per year.

Asahi Kasei nine-month net profit rises 33.7%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei’s net income increased 33.7% year-over-year (y/y) to JPY88.4 billion (USD736.5 million, 31 December 2014) in the first nine months of the current financial year (FY) 2014/15 ended 31 December 2014, according to a press release by the company.

Its net sales for April to December 2014 were up by 5.8% year on year to Y1,470bn, with operating income up by 8.1% at Y119bn.

Its chemicals and fibres business posted an 18.4% year-on-year increase in operating income to Y47.2bn for the period, backed by a 5.8% increase in sales to Y728.3bn.

"In petrochemicals, market prices declined for styrene monomer, while market prices improved for acrylonitrile, and the positive effects of strengthening of petrochemical operations in Japan contributed to performance," Asahi Kasei said.

As MRC wrote before, Asahi Kasei Chemicals 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 in 2015.

Asahi Kasei Corporation is a global Japanese chemical company. Its main products are chemicals and materials science. It was founded in May 1931, using the paid in capital of Nobeoka Ammonia Fiber Co., Ltd, a Nobeoka, Miyazaki based producer of ammonia, nitric acid, and other chemicals. Now headquartered in Tokyo, with offices and plants across Japan, as well as China, Singapore, Thailand, U.S.A. and Germany.

Zhejiang Yisheng Petrochemical to shut PTA plant in China for maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Zhejiang Yisheng Petrochemical Co. is likely to shut a purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant for maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the plant is likely to be shut on February 15 for maintenance turnaround. It is likely to remain off-stream for around one month.

Located in Ningbo, China, the plant has a production capacity of 1.8 million mt/year.

As MRC informed previously, China’s polyester maker Tongkun is in plans to start a new PTA plant in 2017. To be located at Zhapu in Zhejiang province, China, the plant will have a production capacity of 1.5 million mt/year.

Besides, BP Zhuhai Chemical has deferred the startup of its new PTA plant until 2015. It was earlier scheduled to start in Q4, 2014. The reason for the delayed startup has been attributed to weak margins for PTA. Recently, BP Zhuhai Chemical has unveiled its plans to start the new PTA in March 2015. ocated in Zhuhai, China, the plant has a production capacity of 1.25 million mt/year.