Wellman Will Sell South Carolina Plant | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: September 30, 2008

Wellman Will Sell South Carolina Plant

Exit from plastics recycling is part of bankruptcy emergence plan
Department: Business

Wellman has signed a letter of intent to sell its Johnsonville, S.C., site to an investor group focused on renewable energy and business turnarounds.

Wellman, a producer of polyester and other plastics, filed for bankruptcy in February, citing high debt and deteriorating business conditions. Earlier this month, it announced a plan to emerge from bankruptcy by centralizing operations at its large polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin plant in Pearl River, Miss., and selling its other assets.

The Johnsonville plant manufactures polyester fiber and nylon engineering resins. The engineering plastics plant has an annual production capacity of 70 million lb, much of which is based on nylon recovered from the carpet industry. The site is also home to an idle PET bottle recycling operation with 190 million lb of capacity.

The buyer is a group that includes JHW Greentree Capital, GarMark Partners, and Westwind Equity Partners. The group previously invested in New Horizon Plastics Recycling, a producer of recycled PET in Greenville, S.C., and says it plans to restart the recycling operation in Johnsonville.

Robert Fotsch, chief executive officer of New Horizons, would become CEO of the Johnsonville assets if the deal is approved by bankruptcy court. "Given the high cost of oil, the products produced at Wellman's Johnsonville facility are a very attractive alternative to high-priced virgin plastics," Fotsch says.

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