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TSRC builds elastomer business with Dexco purchase

Taiwan Synthetic Rubber Corp. (TSRC) has boosted its thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) capacity, global reach, and technology portfolio through the $168 million acquisition of Dexco Polymers LP, the ExxonMobil Chemical and Dow Chemical joint venture.

Taiwan Synthetic Rubber Corp. (TSRC) has boosted its thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) capacity, global reach, and technology portfolio through the $168 million acquisition of Dexco Polymers LP, the ExxonMobil Chemical and Dow Chemical joint venture. Headquartered in Houston with manufacturing in Plaquemine, LA, Dexco has annual production capacity of 32,000 tonnes and 30,000 tonnes of styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS) and styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) block copolymers, respectively.

Wei-Hua Tu, TSRC president and CEO, was on hand in Louisiana for the March 31 signing ceremony and told PlasticsToday that the Dexco deal marked a new strategic initiative for the Taiwanese company, founded in 1973. "This is the first time TSRC has done a geographic expansion outside of Asia," Tu said. "It will be a new test for TSRC, and hopefully it will be successful."

Tu and other TSRC and Dexco officials said that the acquisition was initially announced on Dec. 23, 2010, with the last few months spent on regulatory approval and integration plans. As part of those plans, Dexco will retain its staff, including current president, Chris Mudd, as well as its company name and the trade names of its products, including the Vector line of materials.

TSRC believes the addition of Dexco will help it leapfrog from the eighth largest producer of styrene block copolymers in the world in into the top five globally, with more than 100,000 tonnes of annual SBC production. Company wide and including all products, TSRC has more than 500,000 tonnes of capacity.

Mudd told PlasticsToday that as a company Dexco focuses on specialty SBC products, with smaller volumes and higher margins, versus some of the high-volume low-margin markets like footwear and road surfaces. Dexco's niches instead target areas like adhesives, personal care products, and disposables. TSRC's areas of focus include adhesives and plastic modification, with a 2010 financial statement declaring that 83% of its business was in what it called commodity markets, with the other 17% in specialties.

TSRC's ISO-9001 and ISO-14001 certified production plant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan has an annual capacity of 218,000 tonnes. TSRC also has a sales/service presence or production in China (Nantong City, Shanghai, Jinnan City) and Thailand. The company recently eclipsed the billion dollar mark in annual revenue. In a 2010 annual report, TSRC reported having 1151 employees, with 470 in Taiwan and 681 in China.

In the1980s, TSRC moved into the SBC market through the acquisition of Phillips Petrochemical Co.'s 20,000 tonnes/yr Borger, TX facility, which it dismantled and rebuilt in Kaohsiung. Dexco was founded in 1979 as a Exxon/Dow JV. In 2009, it increased capacity at its Louisiana production site. 

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