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Business Concentrates

January 19, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 3


DuPont realigns executive organization in revenue push

DuPont has made a number of management changes intended to help it meet a goal of $1 billion a year in revenue growth. The firm says the actions will enforce a stronger connection between marketing and sales on the one hand and science and technology on the other. The staff realignment also supports a plan the firm announced last month to shift personnel and facilities to emerging markets such as Asia and South America (C&EN, Dec. 8, 2003, page 7). That plan calls for consolidations in mature markets to reduce annual costs by $900 million. The realignment names Executive Vice President John C. Hodgson to the newly created position of chief marketing and sales officer. Craig G. Naylor takes on the newly created job of group vice president for Asia-Pacific. Within the Asia-Pacific region, DuPont appointed two executives--Thomas G. Powell and Henrique H. Ubrig--to fill positions as president of DuPont Greater China and president of DuPont India/Pakistan, respectively. Eduardo W. Wanick, president of DuPont Mexico, takes on an expanded role as president of DuPont Latin America.


BASF herbicides sold to Nufarm

Acquisitive agrochemicals producer Nufarm, based in Australia, has acquired the phenoxy herbicides business of BASF for roughly $54 million. The business, which includes six phenoxy active ingredients introduced about 50 years ago, had sales of just over $50 million in 2002. BASF's combinations of the six actives with other, newer herbicides are not included in the deal. BASF will source the phenoxy actives for its combinations from Nufarm.


Genzyme plans R&D in U.K.

Genzyme will open a research facility in Cambridge, England, early next year. The facility--Genzyme's first dedicated R&D unit in Europe--will bring the company close to a cluster of nearly 200 biotech companies and a large pool of scientific talent, particularly at Cambridge University. The labs initially will focus on antibody technology for oncology, renal disease, and immune-mediated diseases. Alan E. Smith, Genzyme's chief scientific officer, says the center will add "a greater European dimension to our science." The firm already employs more than 1,200 people in Europe.


Dow in NIH vaccine pact

Dow Chemical has entered a four-year, $5.7 million research agreement with the National Institutes of Health to develop vaccines against infectious diseases, including biowarfare agents. Dow will employ new plant viral particle technology, with vaccine production occurring on leaves of greenhouse-grown plants. "We anticipate that our plant technology will cut production time to three to four months, reduce cost, and produce effective and safe vaccines that can be delivered by capsule or nasal spray," says Carolyn Fritz, Dow's business director for industrial biotechnology.



Bayer's group headquarters building in Leverkusen, Germany, will receive the American Institute of Architects' highest award at a ceremony in June. The semi-elliptical, transparent building was inaugurated in October 2002. It was designed by the German-born, U.S.-based architect Helmut Jahn.


Great Lakes, Mycelx link up

Great Lakes Chemical's BioLab subsidiary has entered a strategic alliance with Mycelx Technologies under which it will market Mycelx' products for use in industrial water treatment and pool and spa care. The products, a patented family of methacrylate esters and drying and semidrying oils, bind to hydrocarbons in water, rendering them hydrophobic for easier removal. BioLab is also taking an equity stake in Mycelx.


Air Products wins in Korea

Air Products & Chemicals will supply nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen trifluoride, ammonia, argon, helium, and silane to a Samsung thin-film transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT-LCD) facility planned for Tangjung, South Korea. Air Products will initially build two plants at the complex--one scheduled to open this summer, and the second one next year--and says it expects to eventually build a third plant at the site. Air Products calls the Samsung facility the first of its kind in the world and says it will require large amounts of bulk gases--anywhere from five to eight times those used by a typical semiconductor plant.


Solvay slates PVC recycler

Solvay has formed a joint venture with the Japanese firm Kobelco Eco-Solutions aimed at using Solvay's Vinyloop polyvinyl chloride recycling process in Japan. Kobelco will own 66% of the company and Nippon Solvay, the balance. Pending government approval, the partners plan to launch Asia's first Vinyloop plant, capable of recycling 12,000 metric tons of PVC per year, by the end of 2005. Solvay opened the first Vinyloop plant, in Ferrara, Italy, in 2002. The technology makes use of the fact that PVC is totally soluble in certain solvents.


Curis signs with Wyeth

Curis has licensed its hedgehog proteins and novel small-molecule pathway agonists to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals for application to neurological and other disorders. Wyeth will pay Curis a license fee and milestone payments and will provide research funding for at least two years. Curis has retained rights to certain therapeutic applications, and Wyeth has an option to acquire rights to certain drugs developed in the program. Excluding product royalties, the deal has a potential value to Curis of more than $170 million.


Alnylam's RNAi licensing spree Alnylam Pharmaceuticals has announced three licensing agreements granting rights to its patents for RNA interference (RNAi) technology. Cenix BioScience, a provider of RNAi research services; Cell Signaling Technology, a provider of reagents for signal transduction research; and Invitrogen, a life sciences research products firm, will pay unspecified fees and royalties on sales of products covered by Alnylam's patents. Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says the agreements are intended to help establish RNAi as a leading tool for target discovery and validation in pharmaceutical research.


Trade drops, as does deficit

Although the chemical trade balance showed a $78.8 million deficit in November, the difference between exports and imports was better than in any month since June 2002, which had a $51.0 million surplus. The improvement came despite lower month-to-month comparisons for exports and imports. According to Commerce Department data, chemical exports in November totaled $7.79 billion, down 5.7% from the previous month, while imports declined 10.2% to $7.86 billion. November exports were up 10.7% from the same month in 2002. Imports rose 6.9%. The resulting $78.8 million deficit was much improved from the $495 million deficit in October and the $325 million deficit recorded a year earlier.


Unipetrol sale draws closer

The Czech government has received seven bids for its 63% stake in Unipetrol, an oil company whose operations include refineries, chemical plants, and gasoline stations. Some of the bids, expected to net the Czech government about $500 million, reflect consortia put together to dismantle Unipetrol. Among the bidders are multinationals Royal Dutch/Shell and ConocoPhillips, Central European firms PKN Orlen and MOL Magyar Oil & Gas, and Kazakhstan's state oil company. Analysts expect the chemical operations to be sold off by the eventual buyer.


DuPont in labor dispute

An administrative law judge has determined that DuPont engaged in "unfair labor practices" and has ordered the firm to rehire 53 workers at the Buffalo, N.Y., plant where it manufactures Corian countertop materials. The workers--who are also owed back pay and benefits--lost their jobs in 2001 after the firm subcontracted their work to another company. DuPont says it acted properly and negotiated fairly with the workers' union, the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union. DuPont plans to appeal to the full National Labor Relations Board.


Merck enters two R&D deals

Merck has signed research collaborations with two biotech companies. Merck will research and develop drugs for Alzheimer's and other memory-related disorders using Acumen Pharmaceuticals' ADDL technology for monoclonal antibodies and vaccines. Acumen will receive an up-front payment and annual research funding, and it will be eligible for $48 million in milestone payments. With Metabasis Therapeutics, Merck will develop small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of hepatitis C virus infections.


SCI medal to Unilever chief Niall FitzGerald, cochairman and CEO of consumer products giant Unilever, has received the Centenary Medal of the London-based Society of Chemical Industry. The medal, created in 1981 to celebrate SCI's centennial, is awarded to "influential and prominent leaders" in science-based industry and commerce. FitzGerald, 58, has spent more than 30 years with Unilever in varying roles, ranging from commercial to financial.



Henkel has acquired the South Korean sealants producer Lucky Silicone Industry. The firm develops, produces, and sells sealants in South Korea. It had sales of nearly $40 million in fiscal 2002.

Evotec OAI and Rib-X Pharmaceuticals have entered a medicinal chemistry collaboration. Under the agreement, Evotec OAI will use its medicinal chemistry and parallel synthesis platform to assist Rib-X's work in identifying novel antibiotics for clinical development.

Novo Nordisk has signed an R&D agreement with BioStratum under which the companies will jointly develop monoclonal antibodies targeted against laminim-5 for the treatment of cancer. BioStratum can receive milestone payments of up to $80 million.

Degussa is raising its stake in Egesil, a Turkish silica joint venture, to 51% from 25%. Degussa bought into the venture two years ago; since then, the venture's silica capacity has almost doubled to 15,000 metric tons per year.

BOC's joint venture with Taiyuan Iron & Steel Corp. (TISCO) will spend more than $80 million on two additional air separation units at TISCO's steel plant in Shanxi province in north-central China. When completed at the end of 2005, the units will almost double oxygen supply at the plant to 2,800 metric tons per day.

Chevron Phillips is licensing its slurry-loop technology to China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) for a new 350,000-metric-ton-per-year, high-density polyethylene plant to be located in Guangdong province, China.

Last year, BASF bought back $642 million worth of its own shares, at current exchange rates, in a continuing buyback program aimed at increasing earnings per share. The 13.7 million shares purchased represent 2.4% of its former capital base, according to BASF.


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