Japanese, Korean firms consolidate their polyurethane businesses

In a somewhat rare case of Japan-Korea cooperation, Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Tokyo) and SKC Co., Ltd. (Seoul) have signed a joint venture agreement to consolidate the polyurethane material businesses of both companies. The two companies plan to form a Seoul-based joint venture company by April 1, 2015 that will target global sales of $2.0 billion per year by around 2020. The 50:50 joint venture anticipates revenue of approximately $1.5 billion in 2015.

Jang Suk Park (left), CEO of SKC and Tsutomu Tannowa, CEO of Mitsui Chemicals.

The joint venture will inherit production facilities including toluene diisocyanate (TDI) plants in Omuta, Japan (120,000 tonnes/yr and Kashima, Japan (117,000 tonnes/year, to be shut down in 2016); methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) plants in Omuta, Japan (60,000 tonnes/year, to be shut down in 2016) and Yeosu, Korea (200,000 tonne/year at an existing joint venture: Kumho Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.); and polyol plants in Ulsan, Korea (180,000 tonnes/year), and Nagoya, Japan (50,000 tonnes/year). The new joint venture will also operate system houses in Tianjin, Suzhou, Foshan and Beijing in China, as well as in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US, and Poland.

Further, an 8,000-tonnes/yr biomass-based polyol plant will; start up in 2015 at Vithal Caster Polyols Pvt Ltd. in Gujarat, India. This company is a joint venture of Mitsui Chemicals, Itoh Oil Chemical (Japan's leading castor oil producer and also a supplier of polyurethane systems based on castor oil-based polyols), and Jayant Agro-Organics (the world's leading castor oil producer). The key objective of this joint venture is to supply bio-polyol that is cost-competitive with fossil-derived polyol, allowing Mitsui Chemicals to target further expansion of automotive application sales through six of its systems houses throughout Asia.

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