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Business

More Firms Make Cuts To Cope With Economy

by Marc S. Reisch
January 5, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 1

Deteriorating customer demand has forced more chemical companies to make cutbacks. Albemarle CEO Mark Rohr says his company is feeling the global economic slowdown particularly in its polymer additives business. As a result, Albemarle plans to reduce annual costs by $40 million and resize its business footprint. At PPG Industries, William H. Hernandez, chief financial officer, says the firm has reacted to weak demand from industrial coatings and glass customers by lowering operating rates and furloughing workers. Minerals Technologies, which makes precipitated calcium carbonate and refractory materials, says it is experiencing a significant drop in demand for its products. It is now cutting 340 jobs, about 12% of its workforce. Hexion Specialty Chemicals plans to close its Pleasant Prairie, Wis., facility because of weak demand for printing ink. It will exit production of hydrocarbon ink resins in North America. Kraton Polymers has suspended production of certain styrenic block copolymers in the U.S. and Europe, reducing global capacity by 50%. "We plan to keep affected capacity idle until we see a more normalized order pattern from our customers, expected early in 2009," Chief Operating Officer David Bradley says.

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