Automotive plastics: Plastic Omnium wants control of its Inergy joint venture

Automotive systems supplier Plastic Omnium (PO) has informed Solvay, its 50:50 JV partner in the Inergy Automotive Systems business, that PO wants to acquire Solvay's stake in the automotive fuel systems specialist. The purchase would make Plastic Omnium sole owner of the world's largest supplier of integrated fuel tank systems.

The companies formed Inergy in 2000. Both Plastic Omnium and Inergy are headquartered in Paris, France. In 2008, Inergy delivered more than 11.2 million fuel systems to automotive OEMs. GM, Nissan, and PSA account for almost 70% of sales.

Solvay (Brussels, Belgium) is a leading global supplier of chemicals and plastics. Both JV partners already have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding in this regard. The joint venture employs approximately 4000 at 24 manufacturing facilities in 18 countries. Its sales amounted to about €900 million in 2009, down from €1.1 billion in 2008. Sales are about half in Europe (plus South Africa) but the company has taken steps in the past 12 months to expand its footprint in China, India, and also Russia. The company's "ship-in-a-bottle" twin-sheet blowmolding technology for fuel tanks was recognized in 2009 with a Grand Award at the 2008 Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE; Brookfield, CT) Automotive Innovation Awards.

With the non-binding MOU already signed by Solvay, the companies expect to reach an agreement in the coming months, which will be subject to the usual antitrust authorizations and also consultations with employees' unions.

Plastic Omnium is a world leader in manufacture of automotive components and modules, and a major European player in trashcans for local communities. It employs about 14,000 in 94 plants and 27 countries worldwide and booked sales of €2.5 billion in 2009.


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