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Huntsman sells U.S. commodities

Continuing an ongoing restructuring that has seen it divest its Australian polyester unit, European commodities business, and U.S. butadiene and MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether) in the last seven months, Huntsman Corp. (The Woodlands, TX) has sold its U.S. base chemicals and polymers business to Flint Hill Resources (Wichita, KS), a wholly-owned subsidiary Koch Industries Inc. (Wichita, KS), which also owns PET and fibers supplier Invista. Those sales brought in $1.8 billion, lowering Huntsman’s total debt to $2.7 billion—a more than a 50% decrease from the end-of-2004 level.
The sale price of $761 million for the U.S. base chemical and polymer unit includes $286 million for inventory and $456 million for Huntsman olefin and polymer manufacturing assets in Port Arthur, Odessa, and Longview, TX; Peru, IL; and Marysville, MI. That segment had approximately 900 employees. Not included is the captive ethylene unit in Port Neches, TX. Huntsman says it has completed its planned divestitures of commodity petrochemical businesses, and will now focus on manufacturing and marketing what it calls “differentiated products.” In a statement, Peter Huntsman, president and CEO, said, “Our entire product line will now experience higher growth rates and much lower sensitivity to energy costs.”
Flint Hill manufactures fuels, lubricant base oils, and petrochemical products, including plastic feedstocks such as paraxylene, benzene, cumene, and toluene, with refineries in Alaska, Minnesota, and Texas, and a chemical intermediates plant in Joliet, IL.
On Jan. 4, Huntsman announced the sale of Huntsman Chemical Co. Australia Pty Ltd.’s polyester resin unit to Nuplex Industries Ltd. for Australian $20.3 million. On Dec. 29, 2006, it completed the sale of its European commodity chemicals business to Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic) for $810 million, including the assumption of pension liabilities. In July, the company announced the sale of its U.S. butadiene and MTBE business to Texas Petrochemicals LP for $262 million. That business had a butadiene capacity of 900 million lb/yr, with 2005 revenues of $645 million.
For the fourth quarter of 2006, Huntsman’s polymer business generated $407 million in revenue, compared to $452.7 million in the year prior. For all of 2006, Huntsman’s polymer unit created $1.756 billion in revenue, up from $1.702 billion in 2005.
In related news, Huntsman named Calsak Corp. (Los Angeles, CA) as the western region distributor for the company’s thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) business. The company will distribute the company’s Irogram and Irostic TPUs into the injection molding, technical extrusion, and adhesive markets.—tdeligio@modplas.com
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