Mitsui Chemicals to Establish New Production Facility in China for Long Glass Fiber Reinforced Polypropylene

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. has decided to set up a new production facility for long glass fiber reinforced polypropylene (LGFPP) at Chinese manufacturing subsidiary Mitsui Advanced Composites (Zhongshan) Co, Ltd., said the company.

This will become Mitsui Chemicals’ third manufacturing base for LGFPP, joining existing bases in Japan and the U.S. By establishing this new facility, Mitsui Chemicals’ production capacity for LGFPP will increase to 10,500 tons per year.

Developed by Prime Polymer Co., Ltd., Mitsui Chemicals’ LGFPP is a composite material made by melting and mixing polypropylene (PP) resin with long glass fibers. The lightweight material offers an attractive appearance, with long glass fibers providing a good balance between hardness and impact resistance. The material is already being adopted in areas such as the unpainted insides of rear car doors.

The recent strengthening of environmental regulations and a shift toward electric vehicles have led to increasing needs for automotive lightweighting.

As a result, demand is on the rise for fiber-reinforced resins and is expected to grow further for such materials able to substitute for metal such as car doors and other such parts. (Mitsui Chemicals certifies LGFPP as Blue Value™ product according to the high environmental contribution value.)

Mitsui Chemicals aims to achieve further business expansion in mobility, a key sector for the company, by continuing to correctly gauge global growth in demand.

Singapores Temasek to buy stake in Danish engineering firm

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings agreed to buy about 30 percent of Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe A/S, the companies said, in a transaction that a source said values the engineering firm at around USD1.5 billion, said Reuters.

As part of the deal, Temasek will subscribe to secondary shares issued by the Topsoe family, which currently owns 100 percent of the company through Haldor Topsoe Holding A/S, said a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

Haldor Topsoe, which confirmed the deal but did not disclose a price, said Temasek’s global reach and connections in Asia and other emerging markets would bring value to the company.

Haldor Topsoe is one of the world’s leading industrial catalyst producers. It employs about 2,300 people and logged revenue of about USD760 million in 2017.

Temasek was shortlisted for exclusive talks and finalised a deal with Haldor Topsoe this week, beating global financial sponsors who were competing for the stake, said the person, who declined to be identified as the talks are private.

The owners of the Danish firm began seeking a financial minority investor last year to accelerate growth, with a long-term intention to list it.

SEB (SEBa.ST) and Citi (C.N) are acting as financial advisors and Kromann Reumert is acting as legal advisor to Haldor Topsoe Holding A/S, the Danish holding company said.

Nomura (9716.T) is acting as exclusive financial advisor and Plesner is acting as legal advisor to Temasek, Haldor Topsoe said.

For the year ended March 2018, Temasek reported a record-high annual portfolio value and said it aimed to temper its pace of investment amid rising trade tension between the United States and China.

Saudi Aramco board to reportedly meet for Sabic bond approval

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco's board will reportedly meet this week to approve the issuance of a bond which could help the company finance its planned acquisition of a controlling stake in Sabic, according to a report by Reuters, which cited anonymous industry sources.

The bond is expected to be issued in the second quarter of 2019. Saudi Aramco Chairman and Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in January 2019 that the company could issue a $10bn bond to fund the Sabic deal. Reuters reports that Aramco has already picked a group of banks to arrange the bonds, with Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Citi among them.

In January 2019, al-Falih told Reuters that "the bond issue is intended to give Aramco multiple sources of capital," but that even without the deal, with Saudi Aramco's "capital program and its capital spend going to be from USD40bn to USD50bn a year-- it's very prudent they have access to the capital market."

The deal would see Saudi Aramco purchase a 70% stake in Sabic from the Public Investment Fund, allowing it more liquidity while strengthening Saudi Aramco's downstream portfolio; a key strategy for the company.

“Our downstream business ventures will provide a reliable destination for Saudi Aramco’s future oil production, and diversify both the company’s business portfolio and the Kingdom’s economy,” Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said in his keynote address at the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) Forum in November 2018.

He told Bloomberg in November 2018 that the company has USD100bn earmarked for downstream developments in the coming 10 years, and USD160bn for natural gas, and important feedstock for the downstream segment.

Saudi Aramco had to pause its planned stock market listing due to the Sabic acquisition, and expects the listing to go through by 2021.

Arkema and Hexcel open a joint research and development laboratory in Les Avenières

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arkema and Hexcel have announced that they will open a joint research and development laboratory in Les Avenieres (Isere), France in April, said the company.

This follows the companies’ previous announcement in March 2018 that they were forming a strategic alliance to develop thermoplastic composite solutions for the aerospace sector, combining the expertise of Hexcel in carbon fiber and Arkema in PEKK.

The companies’ objective at this new lab is to develop carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic prepreg tapes to enable lightweight parts to be produced for future generations of aircraft.

These solutions will provide lightweight and cost effective technologies including faster production cycles for customers in the aerospace and the space and defense sectors.

Thanks to Hexcel and Arkema’s close collaboration, an initial industrial pilot line will be installed in the new lab in the coming weeks. The companies expect to start supplying carbon/thermoplastic UD tapes from this pilot line to customers for evaluation beginning in Q3 2019.

Lomont Molding is moving the operations of its subsidiary Total Source Molders

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lomont Molding LLC is moving the operations of its subsidiary Total Source Molders from a leased 50,000-square-foot facility in Reinbeck, Iowa, to the company's headquarters about 130 miles southeast in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, as per Plasticsnews.

As part of the consolidation, the injection molder filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining notice Feb. 15, laying off TSM's 38 employees effective April 30. All 38 employees have been offered full-time positions, covering a range of job roles across production, at the Mount Pleasant location.

"We're very conscious of relationships with our employees," Carl Frank, Lomont's director of communications, said in a Feb. 28 phone interview. "We're trying to make this as painless as possible." In a letter sent to customers, Lomont Molding said the move will allow the company "to better position itself strategically on a geographical basis without duplicating … efforts of two facilities in Iowa."

"It was basically a strategic move on our part to consolidate assets and resources," Frank said, adding that the Mount Pleasant facility was recently expanded by 65,000 square feet. The expanded area — now bulking up the headquarters to a total of 160,000 square feet — will be used to house TSM operations, including 12 injection molding machines ranging from 75-940 tons. With TSM, the Mount Pleasant site will have 310 employees.

"It's kind of like bringing [TSM's] facility into our facility in a way, so that they're completely integrated together," Frank said. Lomont ranks No. 97 on Plastics News' annual listing of North American injection molders, generating sales of $80 million in 2017. Since 2014, the company has been owned by Summit Equity Group, a private investment firm in Des Moines, Iowa.

The company's capabilities cover a wide range of plastics processes, including structural foam molding, profile extrusion, gas-assist molding and overmolding as well as in-mold decorating and a variety of assembly and secondary services.

Lomont also produces parts for two proprietary product lines: Lomont In-Mold Technologies, which includes safety signage and identification products; and Paragon Products, which specializes in concrete and rebar accessories used in commercial, highway and precast construction markets.

TSM specializes in high-pressure injection molded parts for agricultural and construction markets.

In 2017, Lomont added blow molding to its capabilities with the acquisition of R&D Molders Inc. in Georgetown, Texas. R&D employs around 165 at its facility, which also does some molding for the Paragon proprietary line. The company ranks No. 73 on PN's listing of North American blow molders, with 2017 sales estimated at USD12.5 million.