Saturday, September 24, 2011

Brenntag acquires specialty chemical distributor Multisol Group

 With the acquisition of Multisol Group Limited, Brenntag further develops its market position in the distribution of specialty chemicals with focus on lubricants and base oils including mixing and blending capabilities. Multisol is a specialist in the distribution of lubricant additives and base oils in Europe and Africa working together with some of the world’s largest producers. For the year 2012, the company expects sales of GBP 238 million. The transaction provides a further expansion of our product portfolio into lubricant additives and base oils and, at the same time, increases Brenntag’s capabilities in mixing and blending.

Steven Holland, CEO of Brenntag, comments: “Multisol seamlessly fits into our strategic approach to enlarge our product focus of specialty chemicals including value added services in our core markets in the UK, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and Africa.”

Multisol operates in various geographic end markets across Europe and Africa with nearly 170 employees, thus ideally complementing Brenntag’s existing distribution network and enlarging its formulation as well as mixing and blending capabilities. At the same time Brenntag expects high synergies from the transaction, both in cross-selling opportunities and further efficiency improvements. By combining sales activities in the UK, Western Europe, CEE and Africa and the cross-selling of Brenntag’s existing product portfolio to Multisol’s customer base, the companies aim for continued growth in existing and new markets.

Paul Oliphant, CEO of Multisol will together with his board colleagues continue to lead the operating business of Multisol. “We are pleased to become an important part of such a dynamic company. Multisol has grown significantly over the years and being part of the Brenntag global network will provide us with the assets to support our growth opportunities and improve our service to both our customers and suppliers”, he comments.

As usual for transactions of this kind, the completion of this acquisition is subject to certain merger control clearances which are expected to be obtained during the 4th quarter of 2011.

Clariant adjusts full-year guidance

09-07-2011: Clariant adjusted its guidance for the full-year 2011 due to unfavorable foreign exchange rate developments and a softening of the global economy in the current business year. The mid-term EBITDA margin target for 2015 was confirmed.

The first two months of the second half-year have been marked by a continuing unfavorable development of foreign exchange rates and increasingly difficult economic conditions, negatively impacting Clariant's operating business. While overall demand remained robust, a softening has become evident in some regions and end markets. In view of the developments in the last few weeks, the initial assumptions on exchange rates as well as on economic growth rates for 2011 are no longer valid. Therefore, the previous full-year 2011 guidance needs to be adapted to the changed conditions. Sales are expected at CHF 7.0 - 7.2 bn while the EBITDA margin before exceptional items should reach between 12.8% and 13.2%, still above the 12.7% reported in the last business year.

CEO Hariolf Kottmann commented: "We confirm our mid-term target of an EBITDA before exceptionals of above 17% for 2015. This is based on an improvement in our competitive position resulting from the global asset network optimization program, further savings as well as a successful integration of Süd-Chemie, which will substantially contribute to the group's performance in the coming years. The solid base and the sound financial position achieved in the last two years allow us to consequently implement our profitable growth strategy."

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LANXESS invests EUR 15 million in its glass fiber plant in Antwerp

 LANXESS is investing EUR 15 million in its glass fiber plant in the Antwerp docklands. For the specialty chemicals company glass fibers are a key intermediate for the production of high-tech plastics. With the expansion, the actual annual capacity of 60,000 metric tons will increase by 10 percent. The announcement was made during a LANXESS High-Tech Plastics Day at the facilities for caprolactam and glass fibers in Belgium. With the investment the glass fiber plant will replace both furnaces.

“The high-tech plastics business is a major growth driver for LANXESS. There is attractive business potential in the global market arising from the increasing demand for modern mobility as well as from the electric and electronic markets,” stated Werner Breuers, member of the Board of Management of LANXESS AG. The global demand for high-tech plastics is expected to increase by roughly seven percent per year through 2020.

Just before summer an investment project of EUR 35 million to expand the production of the plastic intermediate caprolactam at the site in the Antwerp docklands was finalized. The production capacity of 200,000 metric tons per year will be increased by another 10 percent.

LANXESS has been investing substantial amounts in the expansion of its global production network for high-tech plastics during the last 18 months. Including the glass fibers expansion, recent investments for high-tech plastics account for EUR 90 million. LANXESS’ Semi-Crystalline Products (SCP) business unit is a leading supplier of premium high-tech plastics. New compounding facilities are being built in the United States and Asia. In the existing compounding plants investments are being made to increase capacity.

“The investments in our Antwerp facilities for caprolactam and now glass fibers further strengthen our competitiveness,” said Michael Zobel, head of the SCP business unit. “More than half of the caprolactam and glass fibers produced is used internally. This perfect upstream integrated value chain is a key success factor for our business. With the production of these intermediates Antwerp is really the heart of the LANXESS high-tech plastics business.”


Carbon nanotube composites for enzymes and cosmetics

 Toyohashi Tech researchers develop a low cost and efficient method for producing electrically conducting composites based on electrostatic adsorption of CNTs onto resin and ceramic particles for applications including the production of enzymes and cosmetics.

Hiroyuki Muto and colleagues at Japan’s Toyohashi University of Technology (Toyohashi Tech) have developed an innovative method for producing CNT (carbon nano-tube) resin composite material   that only requires 1/100 of the conventional amount of CNT additive to produce electrical conductivity in the composite material.

In this method, CNTs were mixed in an electrolyte solution and added to the composite, where the CNTs were adsorbed onto the surfaces of the resin particles due to electrostatic adsorption.  This procedure enabled the production of electrical conducting composites by the addition of a small quantity CNTs.

Importantly, the electrical conductivity of the composite material was easily controlled by changing the amount of electrolyte added to the composite; namely, the concentration of CNTs adsorption onto the resin particles.

Notably, this approach enables significant reductions in both the production costs and the production time compared with conventional methods for manufacturing conductive resins.

The researchers are confident that adding particles with charged surfaces will enable the production of a wide range of composite materials such as metals, ceramics, and polymers.  This method is expected to find applications in the production of enzymes and cosmetics.

This work is supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists at NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization).