Issue Date: September 3, 2007
GE Plastics Adjusts Partnerships Prior to Sale to SABIC
GE is purchasing Bayer MaterialScience's 50% stake in Exatec, a joint venture formed in 1998 to promote the use of polycarbonate in automotive windows.
Exatec developed a plasma-enhanced vapor-deposition process intended to coat polycarbonate windows and give it abrasion resistance comparable to glass. The venture also tackled problems such as polycarbonate's low UV resistance. It says polycarbonate's advantages in windows include low weight and design flexibility. To date, Exatec says, car companies have been evaluating the materials but have yet to adopt them on a large scale.
"With the demand for lightweight, environmentally responsible vehicles projected to grow globally over the next few years, the time is right to restructure the joint venture and take it to the next level," says Exatec CEO John Madej.
Bayer intends to pursue auto windows on its own. The company's polycarbonate is already used in the Mercedes GL and DaimlerChrysler's Smart Fortwo microcompact car. "In the next few years, Bayer MaterialScience anticipates fast growth in the potential applications for polycarbonate, particularly in the market for large panorama roofs," says Günter Hilken, head of Bayer's polycarbonates unit.
Separately, GE has bought out the interest of Mitsui Chemicals and Japanese chemical distributor Nagase in GE Plastics Japan. GE intends to close a 45,000-metric-ton-per-year polycarbonate plant in Chiba, Japan, and supply Japanese customers with the material from other plants around the world.
"As we look to simplify our global business and fully leverage our leading global polycarbonate asset base, this transaction makes a lot of sense for us," says Brian Gladden, CEO of GE Plastics.
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