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Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 15 February
February 15, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST
This Week in CW:
Several more European and American companies reported fourth-quarter earnings this week, with results varying—though European results appeared stronger than expected. ENI’s (Milan) chemical subsidiary Versalis reported a loss of €117 million ($156 million)—an improvement from 2011 due to better margins at the company’s cracker units and lower feedstock supply costs. Despite the global economic slowdown, Air Liquide reported a 6.6% increase in revenue, and Clariant reported a net profit of 87 million Swiss francs. Solvay’s net income soared at an increase of 79%. In the United States, Huntsman reported a $40-million loss due to the impact of a loss from early repayment of debt and restructuring costs, and Dow Corning also reported a loss as they were challenged by significant oversupply in polysilicon and potential tariff threats. However, Koppers and the newly formed Axiall both reported increases in net income.
On the regulatory front, industry groups have responded positively to President Obama’s announcement of initiating a trade agreement between the United States and the European Union—announced during his State of the Union address on 12 February. Obama says the discussions will center around phasing out tariffs and reducing regulatory barriers, and both ACC and Socma released statements expressing their approval.
Around the Web:
Despite Obama’s executive order on cybersecurity, some 60% of entrepreneurs surveyed by ISACA and Trend Mircro, in Infosecurity Magazine, say “it’s only a matter of time” before their businesses are targeted for an advanced persistent threat (APT) attack—an espionage tactic often intended to steal intellectual property. The review of more than 1,500 security professionals found that more than 1 in 5 enterprises has experienced an APT attack.
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have discovered new technology that significantly improves the efficiency in which hydrogen can be produced in one type of microbe, potentially bringing the biological production of this clean fuel source one step closer to economic feasibility, according to the institute. The discovery resulted in a 500-fold increase in the amount of hydrogen produced in the bacterium used in the research.