Issue Date: January 24, 2005
Celanese has more than just last week's expected $1.2 billion initial public offering on its plate: The company is eyeing several moves to reconfigure its business portfolio as well. The company has decided to sell its underperforming Topas cyclo-olefin copolymer business and its stake in its Pemeas fuel-cell membrane-exchange-assembly spin-off. The Topas business generated losses of $35 million in 2003 and $27 million for the first nine months of 2004. The company spent $78 million to build a 30,000-metric-ton Topas plant in Oberhausen, Germany, in 2000. Pemeas was formed as a separate company last April out of Celanese's fuel-cell activities after the company received about $23 million in financing from a consortium led by Conduit Ventures. Pemeas lost $12 million in 2003 and $7 million in the first nine months of 2004. Separately, shareholders of acetic acid maker Acetex have approved the $492 million acquisition bid that Celanese made in October.
Lubrizol will close a plant in Bromborough, England, and take a $17 million charge in fourth-quarter 2004 to cover closure costs. The plant, which makes specialty monomers and lubricant additives, employs nearly 70 people. Lubrizol says it will transfer production to higher capacity facilities in France and Texas, which will be upgraded over the next two years. The move is expected to save $10 million per year by 2007.
"Postcards," a sculpture honoring the 267 Staten Islanders who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, opened in Staten Island across Upper New York Bay from where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood. The contractor, New England Boatworks, was challenged to build a structure that could handle both the contours of the design and the winds of the waterfront site. It settled on a composite made with Reichhold's Hydrex 100--HF vinyl ester resin, which is especially designed for the vacuum infusion molding process used to build the sculpture.
Ambit Biosciences has begun collaborating with three major pharmaceutical companies. Ambit has a small-molecule-profiling collaboration with Pfizer in which it will characterize the protein targets of Pfizer compounds and their molecular modes of action. It has formed kinase-screening collaborations with Bristol-Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline to look at the target specificity of some of the drug companies' compounds. Ambit, a San Diego start-up exploring chemical proteomics, has a proprietary assay to profile the specificity of kinase inhibitors. Protein kinases have been implicated in a number of diseases.
The European Commission has fined Akzo Nobel, Atofina--now known as Arkema--and Hoechst a total of $280 million for operating a cartel from 1984 to 1999 in the market for monochloroacetic acid. Under the commission's leniency program, Clariant received full immunity for being the first to provide evidence of the cartel. Atofina and Akzo Nobel were granted reductions of 40% and 25%, respectively, for the information they provided.
BASF Venture Capital will invest $2 million in Advanced BioNutrition (ABN), a Maryland biotech company focused on functional nutrition to prevent disease. Other investors in the $7.5 million funding round include the venture-capital groups Sherbrooke Capital and SAM. ABN has developed an encapsulation technology that helps protect sensitive substances from external influences such as changes in temperature or pH.
Wacker-Chemie and Dow Corning have settled on the Shanghai area as the site of their previously announced Asian joint venture in silicone intermediates and fumed silica. The complex will cost "several hundred million dollars" to build, the partners say. Separately, Wacker has acquired Wuxi Xinda Fine Chemical, a Wuxi, China-based supplier of polyvinyl acetate with sales of roughly $4 million in 2004. The polymer is used for industrial applications and as a chewing gum base.
Degussa's Goldschmidt subsidiary has been transformed into a limited liability company. Managing directors are Manfred Recksik, head of Degussa's oligomers and silicones business, and Claus Rettig, head of Degussa's care specialties business.
Ineos will acquire Solvay's rigid plastic foils business, which is based in Italy and had 2004 sales of $80 million. Ineos says the film operation provides downstream integration for its majority-owned chlor-alkali subsidiary EVC.
Corixa is selling to Genentech rights to a drug target that could help develop antibody-based therapeutics. Corixa will get a $1.6 million up-front fee and an additional $8.25 million payment contingent upon meeting certain milestones.
Dow Chemical is evaluating sites in the Asia-Pacific region for a new plant making propylene oxide-based glycol ethers. The company says the plant would be similar in size to its facility in Stade, Germany.
Symyx Technologies and Univation Technologies have extended an R&D agreement announced in April 2003. Symyx says it will step up its effort in polyethylene catalysis under the $10 million, three-year extension.
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