Toray Industries (Tokyo) has purchased the remaining shares in Société des Fibres de Carbone S.A. (Soficar), a subsidiary engaged in manufacturing and sales of carbon fibers in France, in which Toray held a 70% stake, from Arkema (Colombes, France). Along with the purchase of the remaining stake, Toray is renaming Soficar as Toray Carbon Fibers Europe S.A. (CFE).
Soficar was established in 1982 as a joint venture with Elf Aquitaine (Toray's stake was 35%). Since Toray increased its stake to 70% in 1988, Soficar has been expanding its business as the strategic base of Toray's carbon fiber composite materials business in Europe.
Soficar currently has carbon fiber production capacity of 5,200 tonnes /year. Toray now plans to further accelerate its move to establish an integrated value chain for its Torayca carbon fiber and expand the business through installing new production lines for raw material fiber (precursor) and prepregs for aircraft application in the future, as well as further expansion of carbonization capacity at CFE.
Global demand for polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based carbon fiber in 2011 was an estimated almost 40,000 tonnes and it is expected to continue growing significantly at an annual rate exceeding 15%. In anticipation of expansion of the carbon fiber market, Toray says it will "strive to accelerate application development in the fields of aerospace, sporting goods and general industry and expand its carbon fiber composite materials business through strengthening the production network based on the current three sites in Japan, France and the U.S, to be joined by South Korea from 2013."-[email protected]