Chang Chun to shut acetic acid plant in Taiwan for turnaround

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chang Chun Petrochemical is in plans to take its acetic acid plant off-stream for a maintenance turnaround, reported Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate in Taiwan informed that the plant is planned to be taken off-line in May 2017. The exact duration of the planned maintenance could not be ascertained.

Located in Mailiao, Taiwan, the plant has a production capacity of 300,000 mt/year.

The company also operates another acetic acid plant at the same site with a production capacity of 460,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, in May 2015, Chang Chun Chemical, a subsidiary of Chang Chun Plastics Co., started up the second plant of bishphenol A in Jiangsu (China) with the capacity of 135,000 tonnes per year.

Chang Chun Petrochemical Co., Ltd. was started in 1964. It currently owns land in Mao-Li and DaFa, total about 114 acres. There are more than 800 employees working in this company. Its major products include polyvinyl alcohol, glacial acetic acid, butyl acetate, formalin, hexamine, hydrogen peroxide, ultra-purity electronic grade hydrogen peroxide, epoxidized soya bean oil, copper foil, antioxidants, melamine... etc. Products are supplied to chemical, textile, coating, resin, semi-conductor, pharmaceutical, electronic, paper, and plastic industries.

TotalErg pump network sale hangs on refinery deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- France's Total and Italy's Erg are looking to sell a stake in their Italian refinery business Sarpom to facilitate an auction of one of the country's biggest service station networks, sources said, reported Reuters.

The two companies jointly control TotalErg which operates close to 2,600 service stations in Italy with a market share of around 11% and also owns a quarter of Sarpom.

The sale of TotalErg, led by HSBC and Rothschild, is expected to begin by the end of the year, the sources said, noting that stripping out non-core assets such as refineries and lubricants would make the deal more attractive for prospective bidders.

Erg declined to comment while a spokesman for Total referred to previous comments by CEO Patrick Pouyanne who said in September the group continued to divest positions in Marketing & Services across Europe where its market share is too low.

TotalErg, 51% owned by Italian green company Erg, is valued at up to USD888 MM and has drawn interest from private equity and industry players, with some hoping to buy a retail business free of refineries, lubricants and other non-core assets.

TotalErg has a 25% stake in the northern Italian refinery Sarpom which is controlled by ExxonMobil's Esso unit with a 75% stake. There was no indication of how much the partners would want for their stake.

Sarpom is proving to be a stumbling block in clinching a deal for the pump network since prospective bidders would not have control, sources said.

Should a carve out of Sarpom fail, the asset would be wrapped back into the main deal, one of the sources said.

Italy's service station landscape is over-crowded, with around 21,000 points across the country, twice the number in France and almost three times that in Britain.

A change of ownership for TotalErg may lead to restructuring of the business with some possible closures and job cuts.

It comes at a time when the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is at risk of losing support ahead of a referendum on constitutional reform that could cost him his position.

Italian privately-owned refiner API has shown interest in the deal and may team up with a private equity outfit to make a competitive offer, sources said.

If successful, a deal with API would create Italy's biggest petrol station player, leapfrogging Eni and Kuwait Petroleum International which last year bought a network of 830 Italian pump stations from Royal Dutch Shell.

US buyout fund Carlyle is also expected to enter the race for the Rome-based business attracted by its turnaround potential and has held talks with API to evaluate a joint offer, the sources said.

Any restructuring is expected to get the nod from Rome which is trying to push through legislation to cut the number of stations to bring them into line with demand, two sources said.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, in December 2014, Total, Europe’s third-largest oil company, permanently shut its high density polyethylene (HDPE) line owing to weak margins which had arisen on account of cheap imports in the region. Located at Antwerp in Belgium, the line had a production capacity of 70,000 mt/year.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

European Commission clears acquisition of BASF's industrial coatings business by AkzoNobel

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the industrial coatings business of German chemicals company BASF by AkzoNobel of the Netherlands, according to RISI Technology Channels.

BASF's industrial coatings business develops, manufactures and sells various industrial coating products. AkzoNobel is a global manufacturer of a wide range of paints, performance coatings and specialty chemicals. Both companies manufacture and supply industrial coatings, which are applied to various substrates to improve surface properties, including appearance, adhesion, corrosion resistance and scratch resistance. Their activities overlap in particular in the area of coil coatings, applied to aluminium or steel where they have a relatively strong combined market position.
However, the Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because the merged entity will continue to face strong competition from other suppliers present on these markets. Although the companies are the leading suppliers of coil coating paint systems for domestic appliances, a number of well-established or expanding suppliers remain active in the market and customers are large sophisticated buyers.

As MRC wrote before, in February 2016, AkzoNobel said it is in discussions with BASF to acquire BASF’s industrial coatings business.

AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry is a global leader in the manufacturing and supply of specialty surfactants, synthetic and bio-polymer additives and specialty polymers. AkzoNobel currently employs more than 7,400 people in China.

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.

SOCAR inks contracts with Italian company on Sumgayit plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The AzeriKimya Production Union of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) has signed two contracts with Technip Italy Nov. 5, as part of the project for modernization and reconstruction of the ethylene-polyethylene plant in Sumgayit, said Azernews.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract envisages work on the design, supplies, construction, setup, testing and commissioning of new facilities, equipment and infrastructure.

The AzeriKimya Production Union has also signed a contract for the provision of consulting services in project management (PMC) with SOCAR-KBR.

In March 2016, the AzeriKimya Production Union signed a contract with Technip Italy on conducting detailed designing and providing services to support supplies as part of the project for reconstruction of the ethylene-polyethylene plant in Sumgait.

During the signing ceremony, SOCAR's President Rovnag Abdullayev noted that processing installations will be modernized and the new ones will be constructed as part of the plant's reconstruction.

This will make it possible to increase the production facilities at Azerikimya, ensure the supply of raw materials to polyethylene and polypropylene production installations and to meet the demand in the country, he said.

It will also increase the country's export potential, enhance the security of the technological process and the quality of raw materials and finished products, noted the SOCAR president.

SOCAR Polymer is a subsidiary of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). The entity was formed at the end of 2013 to run investments at the Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park, a production park which intends to become a chemical hub in central Asia.

Dow-DuPont beset by delays as EU demands missing deal information

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face further delays to their plan to create the world’s biggest chemical company after the European Commission demanded more information about the USD59 billion tie-up, reported Bloomberg.

The European Union’s merger regulator "stopped the clock" in its in-depth investigation on Oct. 13, the watchdog said in an e-mail on Friday. This happens "if the parties do not provide an important piece of information that the commission has requested."

Dow-DuPont, the first of a trio of mega-deals reshaping the agrichemicals industry, is embroiled in an extended probe by the EU over concerns that the combination may reduce competition for crop protection, seeds and some petrochemicals. The EU is separately examining China National Chemical Corp.’s bid for Switzerland’s Syngenta AG.

The EU move is a re-run of a previous suspension that already delayed the regulator’s Dow-DuPont probe by nearly a month. The extra suspension led analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. to lower the probability of the deal closing from 85% to 75%.

"While we still believe the deal should close, it is becoming increasingly probable that the" commission "is slow-walking this deal," Jonas Oxgaard, a New York-based analyst at Bernstein said in a note. It "likely delays the closure of the deal date to sometime in late March 2017."

Dow said in a statement Friday that it always expected a "thorough review" and both companies are working with the EU and other regulatory agencies. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, the company said.

Dow Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris said last month that the merger may be delayed until February from a planned closing late this year, as European antitrust officials take more time to consider potential competition issues in pesticides and crop seeds. Liveris said the value created by the deal made the wait worthwhile.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has raised concerns that the agrichemicals industry is "quite concentrated already" and she’ll ensure that farmers have affordable prices and a choice of providers. EU lawmakers and environmental campaigners have been calling on her to block Bayer AG’s bid for Monsanto Co.

Regulators twice stopped the clock on their review of Halliburton Co.’s bid to buy oil-services rival Baker Hughes Inc. earlier this year, saying they needed more information from the companies. The firms abandoned the deal in May as the companies struggled to overcome antitrust concerns from the U.S., the EU and other regulators.

"Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is re-started and the deadline for the commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly," the commission said.

As MRC reported before, Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co., two historic giants of U.S. industry, will join in an all-stock merger of equals that’s the first step in a plan to create three new highly-focused businesses. The deal, the largest ever in the chemicals industry, will create a USD130 billion company that combines products from both Dow and DuPont in the areas of agriculture, commodities chemicals and specialty chemicals to create the new businesses.

DuPont is an American chemical company that was founded in July, 1802. The company manufactures a wide range of chemical products, leading extensive innovative research in this field. The company is the inventor of many unique plastics and other materials, including neoprene, nylon, Teflon, Kevlar, Mylar, Tyvek, etc. DuPont was the developer and main producer of Freon used in the production of refrigeration equipment.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber. In 2014, Dow had annual sales of more than USD58 billion and employed approximately 53,000 people worldwide.