Solvay completes sale of US Charleston business to Lanxess

MOSCOW (MRC) --- Belgium’s Solvay has completed the sale of its Charleston plant and associated phosphorus business in the US to German specialty chemicals producer Lanxess for an undisclosed fee, as per Solvay's press release.

Lanxess and Solvay agreed on the transaction in mid-November 2017.

The deal includes the Charleston site in South Carolina which houses six production units for phosphorus chloride and its derivatives.

The products at the Charleston site are used primarily as intermediates in plastic additives, flame retardants and agricultural applications.

According to Lanxess, the business in Charleston represents annual sales of roughly EUR65m.

As MRC wrote before, in early July 2016, Solvay completed the divestment of its shareholding in Inovyn (London), bringing to an end Solvay's chlorvinyls joint venture with Ineos. Solvay received exit cash proceeds amounting to EUR335 million (USD370.7 million). The dissolution of the jv follows regulatory clearances from the relevant authorities.

Inovyn was formed on 1 July 2015 as a jv between Ineos and SolVin, a subsidiary of Solvay. Solvay and Ineos signaled their decision to end their chlorvinyls jv in March this year.

Solvay, with a market share 27%, is the second largest PVC manufacturer in Europe, after Kerling with 29% of the market. Solvay is headquartered in Brussels with about 30,900 employees spread across 53 countries. It generated pro forma net sales of EUR12.4 bn in 2015, with 90% made from activities where it ranks among the world’s top 3 players.

AkzoNobel and Evonik start membrane electrolysis operation

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The production of Neolyse Ibbenburen GmbH, a joint venture of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals and Evonik Industries AG at the AkzoNobel site in Ibbenburen (Germany), is off to a successful start, as per Evonik's press release.

The plant with its state-of-the-art membrane technology has an annual capacity of 120,000 metric tons of potassium hydroxide solution and 75,000 metric tons of chlorine and hydrogen.

Operated by AkzoNobel, the facility strengthens the respective leading positions of both companies.
AkzoNobel commercializes chlorine and hydrogen, while Evonik distributes the locally produced potassium hydroxide solution and processes parts of it into other products such as potassium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate and potassium formate at its Lulsdorf site.

"The Ibbenburen facility sets a completely new standard for the chlor-alkali industry," said Werner Fuhrmann, Chairman of the AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals Executive Board, during the official opening ceremony of the new facility. "It enables us to secure the supply of our customers in the long term while further improving our company’s sustainability profile and operational efficiency."

The new production process at the site improves the ecological footprint of every metric ton of chlorine produced in Ibbenburen by 25 to 30 percent, resulting in lower energy consumption and fewer CO2 emissions. "We demonstrated throughout the course of the project that two experienced partners can contribute their diverse experience to intelligently shape their business environment. We complement each other very well and look forward to continuing our collaboration, which benefits our customers and therefore ultimately also the market for potassium hydroxide," noted Dr. Harald Schwager, Deputy Chairman of the Evonik Executive Board, on the occasion of opening the plant.

As MRC informed previously, in January 15, 2016, Evonik and AkzoNobel broke ground to officially start the construction of the new membrane electrolysis plant in Ibbenburen. Initially, the new facility was due to come on stream by the fourth quarter of 2017. The two chemical companies established a production joint venture in June 2015 for the manufacture of chlorine and potassium hydroxide solution at the AkzoNobel site in Ibbenburen.

AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals is the market leader for industrial salt, chlorine and chloromethanes in Europe.

Evonik is the European market leader for potassium hydroxide solution and potassium derivatives as well as a leading global provider of alcoholates with a production site in Lulsdorf (Germany).

January PVC import to Ukraine down by 16%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Last month's imports of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) into Ukraine decreased by 16% year on year, totalling 5,700 tonnes, according to MRC's DataScope report.

Last month's SPVC imports to the Ukrainian market remained quite substantial and were 5,700 tonnes, despite "low season" and long New Year holidays, whereas imports were 6,700 and 3,600 tonnes in January and December 2017, respectively. Some locacompanieses were actively building up additional inventories of material on the back of low export prices in the USA and Europe. Overall imports of suspension totalled 98,500 tonnes last year.

The structure of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) imports to Ukraine by countries looked the following way.

Last month's imports of US PVC were 2,700 tonnes versus 1,300 tonnes and 1,900 tonnes in January and December 2017, respectively. Overall imports of US resin totalled 49,800 tonnes in 2017.

January imports of European PVC to the Ukrainian market were 2,600 tonnes, compared to 4,000 tonnes in January 2017 and 1,200 tonnes in December 2017. Overall imports of European PVC to Ukraine totalled 32,500 tonnes in 2017. Purchasingng of resin in Russia has decreased significantly in the recent months due to the more complicated logistics. Last month's imports of Russian PVC were 383 tonnes versus 1,500 tonnes and 373 tonnes in January and December 2017, respectively. Overall imports of Russian resin totalled 13,800 tonnes last year.


Clariant halts strategic update pending talks with SABIC

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, has halted plans to issue an update of its strategy after an activist investor sold its 25 percent stake in the Swiss speciality chemicals maker to Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) last month, reported Reuters.

Clariant had said in November it would issue the update after U.S.-based investment vehicle White Tale demanded three Clariant board seats and called for an independent review of the Swiss firm by an investment bank.

The update, which Clariant intended to deliver in early 2018, was to cover merger and acquisition (M&A) activities, short-term portfolio management options, returns to shareholders and cost structures. But Chief Executive Hariolf Kottmann's plan is now on hold until he learns more during upcoming meetings with SABIC, now the largest Clariant shareholder.

"We have a completely new situation," a Clariant spokesman said on Friday. "The strategic update started immediately, but now it does not make sense to proceed with something that was started under completely different circumstances." Clariant executives have had informal talks with SABIC managers but have yet to have a formal meeting on strategy.

Last year, White Tale, whose principals included hedge fund Corvex's Keith Meister, succeeded in scuttling Clariant's planned $20 billion merger with U.S.-based Huntsman after amassing a roughly USD2.4 billion stake in the Swiss company. SABIC has not outline its objectives after buying White Tale's stake for an undisclosed sum in late January.

Middle East energy firms have been keen to expand into more advanced chemical operations, such as the catalysts that Clariant produces. SABIC, 70 percent owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has long been a Clariant customer. SABIC and Clariant have a U.S. joint venture, Scientific Design, which in 2016 generated revenue of 79 million Swiss francs (USD84.17 million). Clariant's total 2016 sales were 5.8 billion francs. Clariant releases 2017 results on Wednesday.

As MRC informed before, in March 2017, Clariant announced that it had been awarded a contract by Dongguan Grand Resource Science & Technology Co. Ltd. to develop a new propane dehydrogenation unit in cooperation with CB&I. The project includes the license and engineering design of the unit, which is to be built in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints. Clariant India has local masterbatch production activities at Rania, Kalol and Nandesari (Gujarat) and Vashere (Maharashtra) sites in India.

Idemitsu, Showa Shell to combine crude loading programs

MOSCOW (MRC) — Japanese oil refiners Idemitsu Kosan and Showa Shell Sekiyu have started work to integrate the so-called loading programs through which they purchase crude, Idemitsu's CEO said, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The two companies expect to finish this loading integration in the second-half of 2018, Idemitsu CEO Takashi Tsukioka told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event to mark the New Year.

Idemitsu said last month that it and Showa Shell would combine management of their key businesses, pursuing a merger bitterly opposed by a core investor—Idemitsu's founding family.

Japan's second- and fourth-biggest refiners by sales aim to win over Idemitsu's founding family by showing successful examples of "synergies" between the two companies, Tsukioka said.

He added that Idemitsu was "not considering taking forceful measures for integration without gaining the founding family's understanding."