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Sabic merges European PP ops into automotive business unit

In a presentation yesterday at the plastics supplier’s German offices in Russelsheim, officials formally announced the merger of Sabic Europe’s polypropylene (PP) business unit into the automotive plastics business unit of sister firm Sabic Innovative Plastics. Sabic Europe, the former polyolefins business of DSM, was acquired by global petrochemicals supplier Sabic (Saudi Basic Industries Corp.; Riyadh) in 2003, and Sabic Innovative Plastics (formerly GE Plastics) was acquired by the company in 2007.

Matt Defosse

October 1, 2009

2 Min Read
Sabic merges European PP ops into automotive business unit

The merger lets a single sales force offer processors and OEMs materials specifiers a range of thermoplastics running from PP to PEI, noted Greg Adams, VP automotive at Sabic IP. According to Adams, the company is able to offer about 50% of all of the types of plastics used in automotive today; polyamide and polyurethane are the major automotive plastics not offered by Sabic.

Sabic Europe’s polypropylene business is best known for its Stamax-brand long fiber reinforced PP compounds, for which it says annual demand is growing at a double-digit clip for applications such as front-end modules, instrument panel carriers, door modules, tailgates and seating systems.

Sabic Europe (Sittard, The Netherlands) announced earlier this year it would open a new compounding site in Genk, Belgium, bringing online by early next year 140,000 tonnes/year of capacity for PP and LFT-PP compounds. Sabic earlier this year acquired RheTech Inc.’s (Whitmore Lake, MI) RheMax product line and obtained a toll-manufacturing agreement with that company for its line of Stamax LFT-PP materials. Under terms of that deal, existing RheMax products will be integrated under the Stamax brand name, with product formulations maintained. Adams said the supplier intends initially to supply Europe and possibly Asia with PP compounds such as Stamax from the new Genk facility, but added that other options for Asia already are being considered.

Stamax was originally developed in 1998 as part of a joint venture between Dutch plastics and chemicals supplier DSM and glass fiber supplier Owens Corning (Toledo, OH). Sabic acquired the line with its purchase of DSM Petrochemicals, now Sabic Europe. Last month, competing supplier of LGF-PP compounds Ticona (Kelsterbach, Germany) announced it would begin compounding these materials in North America, after many years of supplying them to the European market, primarily for automotive applications.

Sabic IP also early next year will complete construction of its new plant for Ultem polyetherimide in Cartagena, Spain. Though officials would not identify exact capacity of the new site, Tom Stanley, VP technology at Sabic IP, said the facility initially would supply the more well-established grades of the material but eventually also could be used to supply Extem UH and Extem XH, Ultem grades with glass-transition temperatures of about 290ºC and 275ºC, respectively, an increase of 55ºC or more over the established grades. Both UH and XH have been offered in limited capacity for almost two years, but the new facility could vastly increase their availability and, in theory, reduce their price. —Matt Defosse

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