Westlake Chemical and Kemira's GrowHow business both revealed plans for initial public offerings of stock last week. The two announcements are the latest in a flurry of IPO announcements that, according to Bill Parkerson, global head of chemicals at Banc of America Securities, signals investor confidence in the chemical sector. Houston-based petrochemical maker Westlake, part of Taiwan's Chao Group, had sales last year of $1.4 billion. The firm filed a registration statement with the Securities & Exchange Commission indicating it hopes to raise as much as $230 million. Westlake's filing follows an April announcement by Borden Chemical, owned by investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., that it plans to file for an IPO in the third quarter. Huntsman Corp. has indicated an interest in a stock offering, while Nalco is also said to be considering one. Parkerson says investors want to capture the beginnings of a cyclical upswing in the chemical industry's fortunes. In Europe, meanwhile, Kemira says it is evaluating a public listing of its GrowHow fertilizer business, which had sales of almost $1.4 billion last year. Kemira wants to sell shares to the public or distribute them to existing shareholders by this fall at the earliest. Norsk Hydro sold its fertilizer business, Yara International, to the public earlier this year, and European firms Wacker, Bayer, Atofina, and BP are all planning chemical spin-offs.