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Industry News & Analysis 12899

August 1, 2008

8 Min Read
Industry News & Analysis

Dow acquires Rohm and Haas, continues shift toward specialties

Dow Chemical (Midland, MI) occupied headlines with two sweeping double-digit price increases and the addition of surcharges to deal with rising energy and feedstock costs, but in mid-July also made big news with the revelation of a new tack to deal with cost inflation: an acceleration of its shift into the specialty market via the acquisition of Rohm and Haas (Philadelphia, PA).

Paying $78/share—a 47.9% premium on Rohm and Haas’s 60-day average share price—Dow will finance the deal with $3 billion in equity from Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and $1 billion from its partner, the Kuwait Investment Authority, with which it formed a joint venture for its basic materials business.

In a presentation to investors, Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew N. Liveris said the acquisition will shift 2007 revenues from a 51:49 split between performance and basics to 69:31, favoring specialty products. In terms of synergies, the companies say Rohm and Haas’s display films can be paired with Dow polymers, for example, or its printed circuit board materials can be joined with Dow’s epoxy resin. Dow says the move also expands its geographic reach, with 11% of Dow’s sales coming in Asia Pacific, but 22% generated there for Rohm and Haas. Liveris said the combined business will create “the largest R&D capability in China.”

The deal is expected to close by early 2009, pending approval from regulators and Rohm and Haas’s shareholders. Both companies’ boards of directors unanimously approved the agreement.

PolyOne adds presence in Japan and India

As part of its broader bid to grow its Asian business, specialty compounder PolyOne Corp. (Cleveland, OH) has formed business entities in Japan and India. PolyOne Japan Kabushiki Kaisha (PolyOne Japan Ltd.) is in Tokyo and will be led by Japan business development manager, Masato Sakuma, while PolyOne Polymers India Pvt. Ltd. will locate in Mumbai and be headed by Tushar Parida, managing director. The India site will include a lab and production facility, with construction to start later this year and color masterbatch production and the color lab operational in 2009.

The global expansion is part of a larger bid by the company to expand its sales beyond the U.S.

In Brief

American Kuhne moves

After 11 years and shipment of more than 1000 extruders, single-screw extruder manufacturer American Kuhne relocated to its new location in Ashaway, RI. American Kuhne manufactures extruders sized from 0.5 inch through 12 inches.

American Kuhne’s new facility

Asian plant for Kraiburg

Thermoplastic elastomers supplier Kraiburg TPE (Waldkraiburg, Germany) now has opened a new production plant in Selangor, Malaysia from which it will supply the Asian market. The company also has production in Germany and a facility in Duluth, GA.

Neighbors join forces

Injection mold manufacturer Joint Venture Tool & Mold (Meadville, PA) has acquired competitor and neighbor Ideal Tool Co. Inc. (also Meadville). Ideal Tool will be an operating subsidiary of Joint Venture and re-named Ideal Tool & Plastics Inc.

Price intervention sought

The Andhra Pradesh Plastics Manufacturers Assn. (APPMA) has asked the Indian government to take immediate steps, including the elimination of its 5% custom duty on polymers, to lower resin prices in the country. The APPMA has also asked the Indian government to suspend mandatory material export laws, or impose a duty on resin exports, to increase domestic availability of basic materials.

Injection molding

Hoffer Plastics, The Intec Group form alliance

Two leading U.S. injection molders, Hoffer Plastics and The Intec Group, have formed a strategic alliance. Hoffer has about 300 employees and revenues of approximately $60 million, and Intec’s 850 employees pull in global sales approaching $90 million. Both firms were founded in 1953, and even share the same home state of Illinois (Hoffer in South Elgin, Intec in Palatine).

The two will continue to operate as separate, independent entities, each serving its own, independent customer base. Intec has 150 workers at its 60,000-ft2 Palatine site, with the bulk of its workforce at its two facilities (one each) in Mexico and Singapore.

William Hoffer, president of Hoffer Plastics, cited Intec’s overseas manufacturing capabilities as one very attractive part of the merger for his company. Intec focuses primarily on the automotive industry, with some molding of electronics/electrical parts, while most of Hoffer’s business stems from packaging and consumer and industrial products.

Injection molding

Sumitomo-Demag merger in high gear

The integration of Demag Plastics Group (DPG; Schwaig, Germany) into the Sumitomo Heavy Industries Group should be complete in Europe by year’s end, according to the companies. Sumitomo announced its acquisition of DPG earlier this year.

One change: Sumitomo’s electric drive technology will be integrated in DPG’s established IntElect range. That makes Sumitomo-Demag, with its competitor Fanuc, the only manufacturers of injection molding machines with in-house electric drive technology. “The electric machines, especially, prove how Sumitomo’s expertise and Demag’s know-how can be used efficiently together,” commented Tetsuya Okamura, who moved to Schwaig to take over as CEO there.

Sumitomo-Demag will continue to manufacture three established DPG machine lines: the fully hydraulic Systec range with clamp force of 20,000 kN; the hybrid El-Exis, typically used for molding closures and thin-wall packaging; and the IntElect range, which Sumitomo agreed should be the combined firms’ platform for the sale of electric injection molding machines in Europe. Sumitomo’s SE-DU, SE-HD and SE-HS injection molding machines will continue to be offered in Europe.

Injection molding

Engel brings e-max Stateside

Opening the doors of its North American headquarters in York, PA recently for its now annual Medical Days event, injection molding machine and automation supplier Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) also used the gathering for the Stateside debut of its new all-electric machine line, the e-max.

Concealed behind a curtain until the event’s second day, the machine’s unveiling was accompanied by champagne and an introduction from Engel North American President and CEO Steve Braig. Braig told the assembled crowd that in a time of unprecedented energy price increases and with floor space at a premium, the energy efficiency and small footprint of the line (the 110-ton press running parts measured just 13 by 4 ft) will make the e-max a welcome addition to the marketplace.

Initially, there will be four models available, ranging from 55 to 200 tons, and Braig told MPW that will expand to six units over the next year or so, going down to 35 tons, but not above 200 tons, with some launches expected at next June’s NPE 2009. Above 200 tons, Engel will continue to promote its e-motion tiebarless all-electric machines, with larger presses featuring tiebars. Braig told MPW that the North American market for all-electric machines below 200 tons, which he says constitutes a 44% share in terms of units, was largely filled by Japanese machine suppliers.

In its in-house newsletter, Engel estimated the global sales of all-electric machines in 2006 at 17,900 units, with 1500 sold in the U.S., and the company forecasts global sales of all-electrics will hit 25,000 by 2010.

Braig wouldn’t yet reveal the lines’ costs, saying only that they’d be competitively priced and produced in both Austria and Engel’s South Korean manufacturing site.


Zotefoam buys into MuCell for extrusion

Zotefoams plc (Croydon, England), the world’s leading processor of cross-linked, closed-cell block foams, spent $3 million to acquire a 30% stake in MuCell Extrusion LLC, a subsidiary set up by Trexel Inc. to develop microcellular foam technology for extrusion.

Zotefoams will install a commercial-scale MuCell extrusion line in its Croydon factory to facilitate scale-up of the MuCell extrusion technology for third-party licensees. Zotefoams will also become a licensee to develop microcellular foams.

Zotefoams’ investment includes an option to purchase 100% ownership. The earliest this option can be exercised is July 2010, but, depending on certain performance conditions, it may be exercised as late as June 2011.


Clariant builds liquids, N.A. presence

Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) has expanded its masterbatches market position in North America with the acquisition of Rite Systems Inc. and Ricon Colors Inc., which operate from three plants (West Chicago, IL; Mooresville, NC; and Chino, CA) and generate annual sales of $50 million. Two-thirds of Clariant’s portfolio is in liquid masterbatches, with the remainder in solid. Clariant, which describes itself as the global leader in color and additive masterbatches, says it is number two in the North American masterbatches market, operating 13 manufacturing facilities and employing more than 700 on the continent.

After a string of divestments, Clariant is once again building its portfolio. Last November, Clariant acquired the Colombian masterbatch producer Masterandino for CHF 5 million. In 2003, Clariant Masterbatches acquired Canadian color and additive concentrates and precolored compounds supplier, Quality Colour (Delta, BC).

Auxiliary equipment

Wittmann’s new French factory fully commissioned

Auxiliary equipment and robots/auto-mation systems manufacturer Wittmann (Vienna, Austria) has completed the consolidation of its French operation at a new site in Chassal. French moldmaker Regad, purchased by Wittmann in 2006, has been moved to the new facility as has Wittmann’s granulator manufacturing, which was located about 20 km from the new site.


Johnson Controls forms interiors JV with Plastech

Tier One automotive supplier Plastech Engineered Products (Dearborn, MI) will emerge from bankruptcy in a new joint venture with Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI; Plymouth, MI), wherein Johnson Controls will hold a majority 70% stake in a business built off the interior product assets of Plastech. Creating a company with 29 plants in North America, to which JCI contributed five injection molding facilities and $135 million in cash, the deal’s constituents believe the resulting venture will break even in 2009 and increase earnings/share by fiscal 2010. Products will include injection molded components and assemblies such as door panels and floor consoles, with JCI expected to be the largest customer, generating $500-$600 million of the $1.2 billion in anticipated annual sales. JCI says it has already negotiated multiyear production contracts with other key automotive customers.

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