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Specialty Chemicals

Indorama may spin off recently assembled surfactant business

The Thai company faces challenges from a difficult polyester market

by Alexander H. Tullo
March 7, 2024

A chemical plant with prominent metal scaffolding.
Credit: Oxiteno
Indorama Ventures' surfactant business includes this relatively new Oxiteno plant in Pasadena, Texas.

The Thai chemical giant Indorama Ventures is considering an initial public offering (IPO) of the surfactant business it has been building in recent years. The proposed move is part of an overhaul the company is launching to confront a challenging environment in its core polyester business.

As a first step, Indorama is carving out the surfactant business and naming it Indovinya. The business had sales of nearly $3.6 billion in 2023 and earnings before taxes of $440 million.

Indorama created the business primarily through two big acquisitions. In 2020, it purchased Huntsman’s oxide and derivatives business for $2.0 billion, a deal that included a large site in Port Neches, Texas. In 2022, Indorama bought the Brazilian surfactant maker Oxiteno for $1.3 billion. The acquisition included a new ethoxylation plant in Pasadena, Texas.

“The business has reached a critical size and is now primed to pursue its growth paths,” a company spokesperson says in an email, adding that an IPO is an “opportunity to unlock value.”

The company is also considering an IPO for a packaging business. Indorama managers said at an investor event that the two stock offerings together could raise enough money to pay down $1 billion in debt.


Indorama says its core polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin and fiber business is under pressure from factors including a buildup of capacity and slow demand in China, high costs in Europe, and geopolitical headwinds.

The company intends to shutter high-cost plants and shift production to lower-cost facilities. It is reviewing seven assets, including an often-delayed integrated PET joint venture project in Corpus Christi, Texas. Indorama says the streamlining will trim its chemical and polymer capacity by about 10%, to 17.4 million metric tons per year. The company recently idled a polyester raw material plant in Portugal.

Indorama also intends to raise about $300 million through the divestiture of what it calls Project Cobra and Project Luster, which together had sales last year of about $350 million. The company hasn’t disclosed yet what these assets are.


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