IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 14 March

1:53 PM MDT | March 14, 2014 | By LINDSAY FROST

This Week in CW:

FMC has announced plans to separate into two independent public companies: New FMC, which will comprised FMC's agricultural solutions and health and nutrition segments; and FMC Minerals, which will comprised FMC's current minerals segment, consisting of the alkali chemicals and lithium businesses. The company expects the separation, which remains subject to final board approval and other customary conditions, will take the form of a tax-free distribution of shares to existing FMC shareholders. FMC expects to complete the separation in early 2015 and that each company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. New FMC will be led by Pierre Brondeau, current FMC president, CEO, and chairman. Paul Graves will be executive v.p. and CFO. FMC Minerals' leadership team will be led by a new CEO, who will be announced in the coming months.

DuPont said on 10 March that it still expects to post full-year 2014 operating earnings of $4.20-$4.45/share despite “challenged” first-quarter earnings and revenue growth due to winter storms in North America and business disruptions in the Ukraine. DuPont’s outlook calls for growth of 8-16% above reported full-year 2013 operating earnings of $3.88/share. DuPont reaffirmed the outlook in a regulatory filing after market close on 10 March, in advance of planned investor meetings scheduled this week.

PolyOne has named COO Robert Patterson as its next president and CEO, effective 15 May. Patterson succeeds Stephen Newlin, who will retire as president and CEO and remain executive chairman of PolyOne. Patterson, who currently serves as executive v.p. and COO, has also been nominated for election to PolyOne's board, the company says. Newlin has served as CEO of PolyOne for more than eight years. Patterson joined PolyOne in 2008 as senior v.p. and chief financial officer, where he was responsible for global treasury, planning, M&A, accounting, internal audit functions, and investor relations.

Shell says it will cut spending on US oil and gas production this year and separate its downstream operations into separate businesses. The company announced the plans on Thursday in the first shake-up since Ben van Beurden took over as CEO. “Upstream Americas profitability has been impacted by losses in resources plays such as shales. Shell is shrinking this portfolio and cost base, with 2014 spending to be reduced by 20% compared to 2013, and redicrecting onshore investment to the lowest-cost gas acreage with the best integration potential and into ongoing exploration in liquids-rich shales. At the same time, profitable growth should continue in deepwater and heavy oil, where an industry-leading development program is underway,” the company says.

Around the Web:

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, BP is being welcomed back to seek new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the New York Times. An agreement on Thursday with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifts a 2012 ban that was imposed after the agency concluded that BP had not fully corrected problems that led to the well blowout in 2010 that killed 11 rig workers, spilled millions of gallons of oil and contaminated hundreds of miles of beaches. BP had sued to have the suspension lifted, and now the agreement will mean hundreds of millions of dollars of new business for the company. But even more important, oil analysts said, it signifies an important step in the company’s recovery from the accident, which has been costly to its finances and reputation.

America’s current energy boom may take a new direction thanks to the discovery of a new way to turn raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel, according to Brigham Young University news. In the 14 March issue of Science magazine, chemists from Brigham Young University and The Scripps Research Institute detail a process that could reduce dependence on petroleum. The most unexpected breakthrough in the paper was that ordinary “main group” metals like thallium and lead can trigger the conversion of natural gas to liquid alcohol. The research teams found that natural gas to alcohol conversion occurs at 180 degrees Celsius—just a fraction of the heat needed with traditional “transition metal” catalysts.

More than three-quarters of Americans say the five-year bull market in US stocks has had little or no effect on their financial well-being, according to a Bloomberg National Poll reported by Bloomberg. 77% of respondents dismissed the 176% rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since its 9 March 2009 financial crisis low, according to the poll, taken 7-10 March. Barely one in five—21%—said the market’s gains have made them “feel more financially” secure.

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