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Business News

By Mary Page Bailey |

Plant Watch

Unipetrol breaks ground on Czech Republic’s largest petrochemical project

June 10, 2016 — Unipetrol a.s. (Prague, Czech Republic; www.unipetrol.cz) has officially broken ground for the construction of a new polyethylene unit, said to be the largest investment in the history of the Czech petrochemical industry, amounting to CZK 8.5 billion (around $355 million). Inauguration of the new unit, which has a production capacity of 270,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr), is planned in mid-2018.


Evonik starts up membrane coating facility in Germany

June 9, 2016 — Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; www.evonik.com) recently started operating a thin-film composites plant to coat membranes for use in nanofiltration and gas separation at its Marl site in Germany. In the new plant, thin membrane films are coated with special silicone or other materials.


Amec Foster Wheeler wins world-scale methionine facility contract in Singapore

May 31, 2016 — Amec Foster Wheeler (London, U.K.; www.amecfw.com) has been awarded the engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) contract by Evonik Methionine SEA Pte. Ltd for its second methionine plant complex in Singapore. With an annual production capacity of 150,000 m.t., the plant is expected to start up in 2019.


Lukoil commissions large vacuum-gasoil conversion complex

May 31, 2016 — Lukoil (Moscow; www.lukoil.com) has fully commissioned the Oil Deep Conversion Complex in Volgograd as part of a vacuum gasoil (VGO) hydrocracking facility at the company’s wholly owned petroleum refinery OOO Lukoil-Volgogradneftepererabotka. The capacity of the site, said to be Russia’s largest VGO deep-conversion complex, is 3.5 million m.t./yr. In total, $2.2 billion was invested in the project.


Kuraray boosts EVAL production capacity in the U.S.

May 26, 2016 — Kuraray Co. (Tokyo, Japan; www.kuraray.us.com) plans to increase the production capacity of ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVAL) by 11,000 m.t./yr at its plant located in Pasadena, Tex. Expanded operations are expected to commence in the summer of 2018.


Lanxess expands industrial lubricant additives capacities

May 24, 2016 — Lanxess AG (Cologne, Germany; www.lanxess.com) has expanded its capacities for light-colored sulfur carriers at its sites in Mannheim, Germany and Kallo, Belgium. Light-colored sulfur carriers are used as additives in formulating high-performance metalworking fluids and gear oils. The expansion in Mannheim increases production capacity by 20% and represents an investment of €1.5 million.


Sumitomo Chemical to build new methionine production line in Japan

May 19, 2016 — Sumitomo Chemical Co. (Tokyo; www.sumitomo-chem.co.jp) plans to expand its production capacity for the feed additive methionine by adding a new production line in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. With this expansion, the company will increase its methionine production capacity by around 100,000 m.t./yr. The new facility is scheduled for completion in mid-2018.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Westlake agrees to acquire Axiall for $3.8 billion

June 10, 2016 — Westlake Chemical Corp. (Houston; www.westlake.com) and Axiall Corp. (Atlanta, Ga.; www.axiall.com) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Westlake will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Axiall for an enterprise value of approximately $3.8 billion. The transaction is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2016.


PPG to acquire coatings service provider MetoKote

June 9, 2016 — PPG Industries, Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.; www.ppg.com) has reached a definitive agreement to acquire coatings-services business MetoKote Corp. (Lima, Ohio) and its affiliates. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016. MetoKote operates onsite services applying coatings to customers’ manufactured parts.


Italmatch enters Americas markets with Compass Chemical acquisition

June 7, 2016 — Italmatch Chemicals Group (Genova, Italy; www.italmatch.it) has acquired Compass Chemical International LLC (Smyrna, Ga.; www.compasschemical.com), a producer of organophosphonates, polymers and other specialty additives for water-treatment and oil-and-gas applications. The acquisition will enable Italmatch to operate in the Americas markets.


Solenis’ Australian subsidiary acquires Nuplex Pulp & Paper

June 6, 2016 — Solenis (Wilmington, Del.; www.solenis.com), through its Australia subsidiary Solenis Australia Pty Ltd., completed the acquisition of the business assets of Nuplex Pulp & Paper from Nuplex Industries Australia Pty Ltd. This business will be integrated into Solenis as part of its strategy to broaden its process chemicals offerings.


Solvay purchases Eastman stake in cellulose acetate JV

June 2, 2016 — Solvay S.A. (Brussels, Belgium; www.solvay.com) completed the purchase of Eastman Chemical Co.’s (Kingsport, Tenn.; www.eastman.com) share in their former U.S. joint venture (JV) Primester. With this purchase, Solvay becomes the sole owner of the JV’s cellulose-acetate flake plant in Kingsport. Eastman will provide the longterm supply of basic utilities and raw materials to the plant.


Maire Tecnimont and Siluria sign joint collaboration agreement

June 2, 2016 — Maire Tecnimont S.p.A. (Milan, Italy; www.mairetecnimont.com) and Siluria Technologies (San Francisco, Calif.; www.siluria.com) have entered into a joint collaboration agreement to bring to the marketplace a process to convert natural gas directly into commodity chemicals and derivatives. In conjunction with the joint collaboration agreement, Maire Tecnimont has made a minority investment of $10 million in Siluria.


Ferro completes acquisition of glass-coatings manufacturer

June 2, 2016 — Ferro Corp. (Mayfield Heights, Ohio; www.ferro.com) has completed the acquisition of Pinturas Benicarló, S.L. for €15.0 million. The acquisition adds new waterborne coatings technology to Ferro’s Performance Colors and Glass unit.


Messer finalizes takeover of Air Liquide assets in Hungary

June 1, 2016 — The Hungarian subsidiary of Messer Group (Bad Soden, Germany; www.messergroup.com) has finalized the purchase of Air Liquide Hungary Ipari Gáztermelö Kft. The fixed assets include an onsite air-separation unit, two nitrogen generators, a filling plant for gas cylinders, plus tankers, customer tanks and steel cylinders.

Umicore to divest its Zinc Chemicals business

June 1, 2016 — Umicore N.V. (Brussels, Belgium; www.umicore.com) reached an agreement to sell its Zinc Chemicals business unit to U.S. private equity firm OpenGate Capital. The transaction places an enterprise value of €142.4 million on the business and is expected to close in the second half of 2016. Zinc Chemicals encompasses eight industrial sites in Europe and Asia.


Technip and FMC Technologies to combine, creating $13-billion firm

May 19, 2016 — Technip (Paris, France; www.technip.com) and FMC Technologies, Inc. (Houston; www.fmctechnologies.com) announced that the companies will combine to create a global company, which will be called TechnipFMC, with an equity value of $13 billion. Each company’s shareholders will own around 50% of the combined company. The transaction is expected to close early in 2017, subject to customary approvals. ■


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