Solvay appoints Nicolas Cudre-Mauroux as head of research & innovation

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Solvay has appointed Nicolas Cudre-Mauroux as Group Research & Innovation General Manager, said the company on its site.

Nicolas Cudre-Mauroux joins Solvay from DuPont where he began his international career in 1988 as a researcher in the United States. Subsequent positions he held at DuPont included that of EMEA Regional Business Director for the Advanced Fibers and Nonwovens businesses. In 2011 he joined the DuPont-Danisco integration team and, in 2012, moved to Denmark to become the Technology & Innovation Director for the Food Ingredient business formed following this acquisition.

A Swiss national born in Luxembourg, Nicolas Cudre-Mauroux holds a MS and a PhD in Materials Science from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.

As MRC informed earlier, BASF, SK Chemicals (Seoul) and Solvay are in discussions, which may lead to the construciton of a hydrogen peroxide-to-propylene oxide (HPPO) project at Ulsan. SKC, a chemical unit under SK Group, has sought to use BASF's production license to build a propylene oxide facility with a 400,000-ton capacity in Ulsan, 414 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Solvay S.A. is a Belgian chemical company founded in 1863, with its head office in Neder-Over-Heembeek, Brussels, Belgium. The company has diversified into two major sectors of activity: chemicals and plastics. Solvay supplies over 1500 products across 35 brands of high-performance polymers пїЅ fluoropolymers, fluoroelastomers, fluorinated fluids, semi-aromatic polyamides, sulfone polymers, aromatic ultra polymers, high-barrier polymers and cross-linked high-performance compounds.

Hyosung builds additional PP plant with 200,000 tons annual production capacity

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hyyosung is building an additional plant to manufacture polypropylene (PP), which is used in producing plastic containers, drain pipes, and medical syringes, said the company in its press release.

In order to do so, the company will get a process technology from a global chemical leader.

According to industry sources on Sept. 20, Hyosung will invest about 150 billion won (USD129.09 million) to build the PP 3 plant with an annual production capacity of 200,000 tons at the Yongyeon 1 plant site in Ulsan by 2017. The company has already started the construction in July, and will complete it as early as the first quarter of 2017.

Hyosung made the decision because it has extended its dehydrogenation (DH) plant, which will start operating from the second half of this year, and the demand for PP has increased by more than 300,000 tons annually. Accordingly, the company has also decided to boost the production of PP.

Hyosung has invested a total of 280 billion won (USD241 million) to construct the DH plant in its Yongyeon plant from the end of 2013. The company has decided to extend the production line, since it believes that its profitability will improve in the future due to the decrease in the price of propane, the raw material of polypropylene, from the shale gas development in the U.S.

Once the PP plant is completed, Hyosung will secure a production capacity of more than 500,000 tons at existing 300,000 ton production facilities. In particular, polypropylene from the recent DH plant can be injected into PP so that its price competitiveness will be strengthened.

As MRC informed previously, Hyosung Group developed high-performance thermoplastic polymers called polyketones, which will be used in various types of value-added industrial products. The firm claimed the company is the first in the world to commercialize the material, saying it is one of the greatest achievements in the materials industry, tantamount to the development of nylon by American chemical giant DuPont more than seven decades ago. Unlike many other engineering plastics, polyketones are relatively easy to synthesize and could be derived from inexpensive monomers.

Hyosung Corporation is a Korean industrial conglomerate, founded in 1957. It operates in various fields, including the chemical industry, industrial machinery, IT, trade, and construction.

Lotte Titan restarts Indonesia LLDPE line at Cilegon plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lotte Titan has restarted the 200,000 tpa No.3 linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) line at its Cilegon plant in west Java, Indonesia, as per Plastemart.

The LLDPE line was restarted on 18 September after being shut around 10 days earlier because of a lump accumulation. A first attempt at bringing the line back on stream failed, delaying the restart by around five days. The line now is operating at about a 95% run rate.

Lotte Titan is one of two polyethylene (PE) producers in Indonesia, together with Chandra Asri. Lotte Titan has total PE production capacity of 450,000 tpa. Local LLDPE prices in Indonesia spiked last week because of panic buying as a result of the Lotte Titan shutdown and plans by Chandra Asri to shut its 600,000 tpa Cilegon cracker and PE unit starting 24 September. Local LLDPE prices jumped about 600-700 rupiah/kg (USD41-48/ton) compared with two weeks earlier to about Rp19,000/kg or USD1310/ton.

As MRC informed, publicly listed petrochemical company Lotte Chemical Titan, a subsidiary of the South Korean Lotte Group, is studying the possibility of building a USD4 billion upstream plant to reduce imports of raw materials.

The Lotte Group currently has a presence in Indonesia via its subsidiary, Honam Petrochemicals, which acquired Malaysia’s polyolefin major Titan Chemicals in July 2010. Included in the acquisition was Titan’s Indonesian subsidiary - PT Titan Petrokimia Nusantara (TPN), which has a polyethylene (PE) production capacity of 450,000 tonnes/year.

Wakcer Group is Company of the Year - ICIS

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ICIS Chemical Business has named Wacker, the Munich-based chemical company, "Company of the Year", said Wacker on its site.

In the published announcement, the news agency highlighted both Wacker’s 2014 financial performance in a challenging environment and the board’s success in positioning the company for future gains. "We congratulate Wacker Chemie and CEO Rudolf Staudigl for an outstanding financial performance", said Joseph Chang, Global Editor of ICIS Chemical Business.

The award was based on year-on-year growth in sales, operating and net profits, and absolute profit margins in 2014. "The company captured strong growth last year, kept costs under control and pushed profits and margins higher against a difficult global economic and oil price environment," said Nigel Davis, ICIS Insight Editor.

In 2014, Wacker’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 54% in 2014, with the EBITDA margin increasing to 21.6% versus 15.2% in 2013. "We are very pleased and honored that ICIS has chosen Wacker as Company of the Year for its business achievements", said Dr. Rudolf Staudigl, Wacker’s President and CEO. "2014 was an extraordinary year for Wacker, as our company celebrated its centennial. Over the last 100 years, our strong commitment to change, adapt and renew itself has been one of the pillars for our ongoing success up to this very day."

In 2014, Wacker posted sales of EUR4.83 billion with some 17,000 employees. The company has operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia, with subsidiaries and sales offices located in 29 countries. "As globalization progresses and more and more people benefit from rising affluence, demand for our high-quality products is set to further increase", Dr. Staudigl added. "This is why I consider WACKER well equipped to serve a growing customer base and to play its role in promoting a global sustainable development."

As MRC wrote previously, in March 2015, Wacker Chemie said will increase its 2014 dividend to 1.50 euros (USD1.59) from EUR0.50 following a marked increase in sales and earnings, but full-year net profit is expected to fall below the 2014 figure due to lower special income and a tax rate of slightly more than 50%.

ICIS is one of the world's largest chemical and petrochemical market information providers. The company has more than 30 years’ experience in providing pricing information, news, analysis and consulting to buyers, sellers and analysts. ICIS has a global staff of more than 800 employees, with some 350 journalists engaged in reporting market prices and news. ICIS is a division of Reed Business Information headquartered in Sutton, Surrey, England.

Wacker Chemie AG is a worldwide operating company in the chemical business, founded 1914. The company is controlled by the Wacker-family holding more than 50 percent of the shares. The corporation is operating more than 25 production sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The product range includes silicone rubbers, polymer products like ethylene vinyl acetate redispersible polymer powder, chemical materials, polysilicon and wafers for semiconductor industry. In 2014, the Group generated sales of some EUR4.83 billion (2013: EUR4.48 billion).

Saudi Aramco buys 50% of Lanxess rubber unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia's state oil company is taking a 50%-stake in the synthetic rubber business of German chemicals groups Lanxess in a deal that values the entire unit at EUR2.75bn, including debt, as per Lanxess' press release.

Saudi Aramco will pay around EUR1.2bn in cash for the stake, according to a statement released on Tuesday.

The transaction still requires the approval of the relevant antitrust authorities and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.

Lanxess will contribute its synthetic rubber business to the new joint venture. This will include the Tire & Specialty Rubbers (TSR) and the High Performance Elastomers (HPE) business units, their 20 production facilities in nine countries and some 3,700 employees and additional support staff. The high-performance rubbers manufactured by Lanxess are mainly used in the production of tires and technical applications such as hoses, belts and seals. The main customers include the automotive and tire industries but the products are also used in the construction industry and by oil and gas companies.

The joint venture brings together the world’s largest producer of synthetic rubber and the world’s largest oil and energy producer to form a far-reaching strategic partnership. "This alliance will enable us to give the rubber business a very strong competitive position and the best possible future perspectives", said Lanxess CEO Matthias Zachert. "Together in the future we can produce synthetic rubber in an integrated value chain from the oil field to the end product, thus establishing one of the best positioned suppliers in the world market. In this way, we will be able to offer our customers even greater reliability than before."

Lanxess had been searching for a partner for its synthetic rubber business as the industry - which supplies the material used in car tyres - comes under pressure amid falling prices and intense competition.

The partnership with Saudi Aramco will give the business access to competitively-priced commodities, including crude oil, as it looks to reduce input costs.

Lanxess said it plans to use proceeds from the stake sale "for future growth, the reduction of debt and a share buy-back".

As MRC reported previously, earlier this month, Lanxess was in talks to put its main synthetic rubber business into a joint venture with petrochemicals group Ineos, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Lanxess also held talks with Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) and Russia's NKNK and Sibur.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,600 employees in 29 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.