IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 27 September

10:43 AM MDT | September 27, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This week in CW:

Several key leadership changes were announced this week. Air Products announced on Thursday that its CEO John McGlade will retire in 2014 and the company will name three new independent directors to its board of directors. McGlade will continue to serve as chairman and CEO during the search process and then as chairman for an agreed-upon transition period in 2014. Wolfgang Büchele, Kemira's president and CEO, announced today that he will resign from his current position to become the CEO of Linde. Büchele will continue in his present role until 30 April 2014. The board of directors at KMG Chemicals, a specialty chemical producer, says that it has appointed Christopher Fraser as the company’s president and CEO, effective immediately. PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC; Bangkok) says that the company's board of directors, in a meeting held on 20 September, appointed Bowon Vongsinudom as the new CEO of PTTGC. Orica (Melbourne) says that Andrew Larke, currently executive global head/strategy and planning at the company, will become executive global head/chemicals while still maintaining his existing responsibilities.

ACC’s September chemical activity barometer (CAB) is at the highest level since June 2008—forecasting an upside to the US economy and economic expansion into 2015, ACC says. On a three-month moving average basis, the September reading increased 0.4% over August. Year-on-year, the CAB is up 3.3%. Continued improvements have been reported in construction-related plastic resins, coatings, and pigments—indicating strength in housing, ACC says. These areas are likely to continue to grow, though at a moderated pace, suggesting that the rapid gains typically seen early in a recovery have given way to slower growth.

Albemarle will reorganize its business structure, reducing the number of reporting segments at the company from three to two, effective 1 January 2014, it says. The two business units will be called performance chemicals and catalyst solutions. The performance chemicals unit will encompass Albemarle’s brominated flame retardants, minerals and custom manufacturing businesses, while the catalyst solutions unit will house various catalyst businesses and antioxidants. Also this week, Evonik Industries said that its supervisory board has unanimously passed resolutions to sharpen the group's focus on specialty chemicals and its future growth targets and to reduce the size of Evonik's executive board from six to four members. Within the executive board, operational responsibility for the entire specialty chemicals business will be transferred to Patrik Wohlhauser, effective 1 January 2014.

Around the Web:

J.P. Morgan Chase is in talks with government officials to settle federal and state mortgage probes for $11 billion, CNBC confirmed on Wednesday. The sum could include $7 billion in cash and $4 billion for consumers, sources say. The talks are fluid, and the $11-billion amount could change. The discussions include the US Department of Justice, SEC, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the New York State attorney general.

Industry Edge cites a recent report by the Freedonia Group that says a growing demand for construction will boost roofing sales. The roofing industry is projected to see a bump of 3.5% annually, to reach 268 million squares in 2017, which comes out to a value of $27.2 billion. While new construction, both residential and nonresidential, will drive the increase, reroofing projects remain the cause for most of the demand for materials. Freedonia speculates this case was especially true in 2012, when storm damage, such as that caused by Hurricane Sandy, led to replacing or repairing roofing.

According to CBC News, oxygen appeared in the earth’s atmosphere up to 700 million years earlier than thought, according to a study led by a British Columbian scientist, suggesting that revisions need to be made to current theories about how life evolved on earth. Until now, scientists thought photosynthesis first evolved in single-cell organisms about 2.7 billion years ago. The new study, led by biogeochemist Sean Crowe, has found surprising evidence that as far back as 3 billion year ago, there were levels of oxygen in the atmosphere too high to have been produced without living organisms.

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