IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 13 September

10:57 AM MDT | September 13, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This Week in CW:

Uralkali (Berezniki, Russia) on Wednesday announced a major decline in revenues and earnings in the first six months of this year. The company is in dispute with Belarussian authorities following its withdrawal from Belarussian Potash Co. (BPC; Minsk), an export cartel owned and operated jointly by Uralkali and Belaruskali (Soligorsk, Belarus), which led to the 26 August arrest of Uralkali’s CEO Vladislav Baumgertner. Uralkali’s net profit in the first six months was down 53%, to $397 million, on revenues 29% lower, at $1.35 billion. Ebitda declined 40%, to $876 million, and Ebitda margin was 65% compared with 76% in the first six months of 2012. The potash market in the first half of this year was challenging and was characterized by intensifying competition for market share, says Viktor Belyakov, Uralkali’s CFO and acting CEO.

The official receiver for Kem One (Lyon, France) has received four takeover proposals for the company, Kem One announced on Wednesday. Discussions continue with the principal stakeholders, and the judge of the commercial court of Lyon will be asked to extend the deadline for bids until 19 September, to allow the candidates time to finalize their plans, the company says. Each of the proposals is based on a plan to continue operating Kem One's assets, the company says. If the deadline is extended, the commercial court of Lyon is expected to decide on the bids on 26 September. Three of the offers are for the entire company, comprising Kem One SAS and Kem One Innovative Vinyls.

AkzoNobel says it is has informed employees of its intention to streamline its organizational structure in Germany. The changes will also result in a reduction of more than 25% in the number of people employed by AkzoNobel in Germany, bringing the total down to approximately 2,600, AkzoNobel says. The company says that it intends to reduce the number of office locations from eight to three. The changes should be completed by the summer of 2014, AkzoNobel says.

Plans for a megarefinery and petrochemical project in China—planned by PetroChina, Shell Chemicals, and Qatar Petroleum—are expected to be severely delayed, according to several reports. A local report says that after close to two years of site-search, the partners are still unable to decide. Feasibility studies into the project, planned at Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, have been under way for the past 14 months. The partners plan to invest about $13 billion in the joint venture project, which would include a 400,000-bbl/day refinery and a 1.2-million m.t./year ethylene plant.

Around the Web:

Occidental Petroleum (OXY; Los Angeles) has begun looking for suitors to take a minority stake in its Middle East unit for as much as $8 billion, according to Bloomberg reports. CEO Stephen Chazen has held talks with sovereign wealth funds and possible strategic partners for a 40% stake in the Mideast business, whose value he pegs at $20 billion, sources say. The CEO is handling the talks himself and isn’t working with bankers now. Occidental shares jumped 1.4%to $92.30 as of 10:14AM Friday in New York.

Scientists in Spain have reported the first self-healing polymer that spontaneously and independently repairs itself without any intervention. The new material could be used to improve the security and lifetime of plastic parts in everyday products such as electrical components, cars and even houses, according to Phys.org. The researchers have dubbed the material a 'Terminator' polymer, and the scientists prepared the self-healing thermoset elastomers from common polymeric starting materials using a simple and inexpensive approach, the article states.

Spain's public debt reached a record high in June, the country's central bank said, according to BBC UK. The figure has risen to 942.8bn euros (£792.5bn; $1.3 trillion), equal to 92.2% of the country's entire economic output. This is nearly 15% higher than the same period last year and above the Spanish government's target limit of 91.4%, despite severe public spending cuts. Austerity measures have led to street protests as unemployment now tops 26%, according to the article.

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