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Invista Will Sell Polyester Business To Indorama

Plastics: Indorama says acquisition makes it the world leader in polyethylene terephthalate

by Alexander H. Tullo
November 17, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 47

Koch Industries' Invista subsidiary is selling two PET plants to Thailand's Indorama for $420 million. The transaction is the second large sale of a U.S. polyethylene terephthalate (PET) business to a foreign firm in as many months. It includes a 470,000-metric-ton-per-year plant in Spartanburg, S.C., and a 535,000-metric-ton plant in Querétaro, Mexico, both of which make PET resins and fibers.

The PET industry enjoyed high growth in the 2000s thanks to new applications such as water bottles and food containers, but more recently overcapacity has made the business a tough slog. Just last month, Eastman Chemical announced that the Mexican conglomerate Alfa will acquire the remainder of its PET business (C&EN, Nov. 1, page 8).

Invista initiated a "market assessment" of its business--a euphemism for a planned sale--in July. Not included in the deal are its European PET business, its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and PET technology licensing business, and its polyol and dimethyl terephthalate operations in Wilmington, N.C.

Indorama says it will become the world's largest PET maker when the deal is completed early next year. Over the past decade, the Thai company has emerged as a major player in the U.S. PET market. It purchased the StarPET plant in Asheboro, N.C., in 2003 and expanded it aggressively. Last year it completed a 432,000-metric-ton PET plant in Decatur, Ala., adjacent to a BP PTA complex. It also purchased European assets from Eastman.

Indorama CEO Aloke Lohia says the Invista business has synergies with his firm's existing U.S. operation and will give it a toehold in Latin America. "We are truly excited, as such million-ton opportunities are seldom available," he says.

The Invista business was originally Hoechst's Trevira unit. Koch and Mexico's Grupo Saba purchased the business in 1999 and renamed it KoSa. Koch bought out Saba two years later and eventually folded it into the Invista fibers business it acquired from DuPont.



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