Issue Date: March 3, 2008
W.R. Grace has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., to allow it to sell 10 industrial properties to Environmental Liability Transfer. Sale of the contaminated land would remove $12.5 million in environmental liabilities from the company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2001 due to asbestos litigation.
GPC Biotech is laying off 38 of its 101 employees in a cost-cutting move. Forty-nine of the firm's remaining employees will be in Princeton, N.J., and the balance will be in Munich.
Bayer has opened an $11 million catalysis research center in Aachen, Germany, in a pact between Bayer MaterialScience, Bayer Technology Services, and RWTH Aachen University. Among the projects the center will research are the synthesis of lower-molecular-weight polymer building blocks for specialty plastics and the activation of CO2 as a synthetic building block.
Asahi Kasei will increase its annual capacity in Kawasaki, Japan, for solution-polymerized styrene-butadiene rubber by 10,000 metric tons. The new output will be suitable for making fuel-efficient silica-containing tires, the firm says.
Permira Holdings' purchase of the Japanese agrochemicals company Arysta Lifescience has been given a green light by the European Commission. Permira, a private equity firm, has an interest in Cognis, which produces agrochemical adjuvants, but the commission decided the deal would cause no anticompetitive problems.
Henkel will sell all or part of its stake in St. Paul, Minn.-based Ecolab. The German specialty products company has not made a final decision on the size of the stake it will divest or the timing. Henkel holds a 29.4% share in Ecolab that it says was worth about $3.7 billion as of the end of 2007.
DuPont is planning a "multi-million-dollar" expansion at a plant in Thetford Mines, Quebec, that makes Zodiaq quartz composite materials for countertops. The company says new equipment will make bigger and better slabs. The Quebec government is helping finance the project.
Kuraray and Nomura Micro Science, both of Japan, have formed a joint venture, Kuraray Aqua, that will build industrial water purification facilities. Kuraray will contribute know-how in the use of hollow-fiber membranes and polyvinyl alcohol gels to purify water. Nomura brings expertise in the manufacturing of water purification systems.
Nicholas Piramal India Ltd. has signed a drug discovery agreement with nine government research institutes and universities in India. As part of the more than $6 million project, the publicly funded agencies will send NPIL 7,000 samples per month of microbes isolated from various ecological niches in India. It will be the first time that the microbes' medicinal properties will have been tested.
The Department of Energy will spend up to $33.8 million over four years on four biofuel projects with enzyme companies. The projects aim to reduce the cost of enzymatic degradation of cellulose into sugars prior to fermentation into ethanol. The companies—DSM, Genencor, Novozymes, and Verenium—will match the government funds.
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