A. Schulman Inc. to add production lines in Mexico and mulls a new plant in Peru

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A. Schulman Inc., a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds, composites, powders and resins, is to add new production lines in Mexico and is ready to plan for a new manufacturing plant in Peru, as per Plastemart.

This increase in demand can be attributed to Latin America's market growth. The new compounding lines are needed at Schulman’s plant in San Luis Potosi to make compounds based on engineering plastics such as nylon and polycarbonate, Schulman executive Gustavo Perez said. Perez serves as general manager and Americas chief operating officer for the Fairlawn, Ohio-based firm.

Mexican sales of engineering resin compounds into automotive uses were up 15% last year for Schulman. "We’re seeing automotive growth opportunities in both export and domestic markets in Mexico," Perez said. "European OEMs are establishing operations in Mexico to supply Mexico and Latin America."

In Peru, Schulman "is building a footprint," according to Perez, because of strong demand for masterbatch concentrates there. No details of the new production site were available, but Perez said Schulman hopes to have it in place during 2017.

In addition to the 20-year-old San Luis Potosi plant, Schulman’s Latin American operations include plants in Brazil and Argentina and two thermoset production sites in Mexico. Schulman’s masterbatch concentrates sales also are strong in Mexico, Perez said. Sales of those materials into agricultural uses grew 10% last year, while their sales into packaging applications were up 7-10%.

Even when the new lines are in place in San Luis Potosi, Perez said that Schulman will have plenty of room for future growth at the site.

New polyethylene resin capacity coming online next month in Mexico by Braskem Idesa will provide Schulman with better lead times for material shipments, Perez added. "We’re currently at 20 days delivery (of PE) from the U.S., so this will be closer," he said. Most of Schulman’s concentrates are based on PE and polypropylene.

Recent devaluation of the Mexican peso vs. the U.S. dollar has had some effect on Schulman’s business in Mexico, but not an undue amount.

As MRC reported earlier, in February 2016, A. Schulman Inc. announced that it had expanded its existing compounding capacity by adding two new production lines at the Kerpen plant in Germany. In addition to the two twin screw extruders, the company has invested in a fully automatic packaging line.

Schulman ranks as a leading compounder and concentrate maker in both North America and Europe, as well as a leading European resin distributor. The firm employs 5,000 worldwide and posted sales of USD2.4 billion in it 2015 fiscal year.

Arkema and Xenia to develop carbon fiber reinforced chain polyamides

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arkema, a France-based chemical manufacturer, and Xenia have recently signed a cooperation agreement for the development of carbon fiber reinforced long chain polyamides, including the famous Pebax thermoplastic elastomer, as per Arkema's press release.

These compounds will find various applications in sports, optical, and electronics, where toughness and lightness are crucial.

Carbon fiber technology enhances the performance of polymers in the search for lightness and strength. This technology allows the production of ultra-thin and lightweight parts while keeping extremely high stiffness and impact resistance.

In collaboration with Xenia, newly developed Pebax grades will have higher rigidity while keeping the universally recognized features of Pebax TPE. These include enduring elasticity and impact resistance even at extremely low temperature, and also outstanding processability through direct injection moulding.

As MRC wrote before, in 2014, Arkemaand developed two new grades - Luperox organic peroxides and Kynar Flex PVDF resins -specifically designed for electric and electronic wires and cables applications.

Arkema with annual revenue of EUR6.4 billion is a leading European supplier of chlorochemicals and PVC. Kynar and Kynar Flex are registered trademarks of Arkema Inc.

Safco mulls full takeover of fertilizer maker Ibn Al-Baytar from SABIC

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company (Safco) is considering plans to buy over the shares in local chemical fertilizer producer Ibn Al-Baytar from petrochemical major SABIC, reported TPS with reference to Safco's statement.

Safco intends to take full-ownership of Ibn Al-Baytar and integrate its business provided it is economically viable and fits in with the company's strategic goals, according to Safco's statement.

Safco emphasized that it was still studying the plan, and had not reached any preliminary agreement on the acquisition of Ibn Al-Baytar.

As MRC wrote before, SABIC reported a 29.4% drop in fourth-quarter 2015 net profit due to lower prices for its products, particularly in its metals division. It was the sixth straight quarter of falling profits for the company, which has been hurt by the fall in oil prices since mid-2014. SABIC made a net profit of 3.08 billion riyals (USD821 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, down from 4.36 billion riyals in the year-earlier period.

Founded in 1985, Jubail-based Ibn Al-Baytar is a 50-50 joint venture owned by SABIC and Safco with a capital of Saudi Riyals 494.7 million (USD131.88 million). The company owns, operates and manages factories producing chemical fertilizers.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the worldпїЅs top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world's market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers. SABIC, in turn, owns 42.99% of Safco.

Sinopec Hubei to restart MEG plant in China after maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sinopec Hubei Chemical Fertilizer plans to restart a monoethylene glycol (MEG) production following a maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the plant is likely to be resumed operations by end March 2016. The plant was taken off-stream in end-November 2015.

Located at Zhejiang in Hubei province of China, the plant has a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, Sinopec Hubei Chemical Fertilizer started a new MEG plant on February 8, 2014. Initially the plant was scheduled to start commercial production in late 2013. Located at Zhejiang in Hubei province of China, the plant has a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

Magna to open new seat-making facility in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Automotive parts supplier Magna International Inc. is opening a new seat-making facility in China to supply Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co’s Volvo car group, said Canplastics.

In a statement, Magna said that the 5,200-square-meter facility in Taizhou, China, is to be completed by mid-2016, and will produce complete seating systems for a small crossover utility vehicle.

"This new facility helps us support a new customer and expands our footprint in China, both of which are key to growing our global seating business," Mike Bisson, president of Magna Seating, said in the release.

The new plant will become Magna’s 33rd facility located in China. Aurora, Ont.-based Magna earns about half of its revenue from outside North America.

As MRC informed earlier, Magna International Inc. is aiming to set up a new production facility in Malacky, in Slovakia’s western part. The factory will make various plastic interior car components, the country’s state-run Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) said in a statement.

Magna owns three manufacturing and assembly facilities in Slovakia, which are operated by a total of 1,100 employees, according to figures from the company. With Eastern Europe and Russia as key growth regions, we have more than 159 facilities and over 46,500 employees throughout Europe. As MRC informed earlier, the Russian company "Avtotor Holding" and Magna International Europe signed an agreement on cooperation in the creation of automotive cluster in the Kaliningrad region. As per the agreement the parterns plan to build 21 plants, 15 of which - for the production of automotive components.

Magna International is headquartered in Aurora, Ont.