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ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA — Australia's Southcorp Holdings Ltd. has acquired the worldwide rights to Renew PET recycling technology and has started license negotiations with North American and European packaging companies to commercialize the process.

Southcorp spokeswoman Heidi Crundwell said license negotiations have started with Coca-Cola Co. and ``a number of multinational beverage companies.'' Southcorp also is negotiating with a Spanish packaging company and other companies in North America and Europe, but Crundwell said it is too early to reveal names.

The Renew technology uses a combination of physical and chemical processes to clean and repolymerize PET.

Adelaide-based Southcorp acquired the technology when it purchased the PET blow molding division of Australia's Smorgon Consolidated Industries Pty. Ltd. of Melbourne in 1995.

The technology was developed in Australia in 1994 by Melbourne-based Innovations in PET Pty. Ltd., also known as Inpet.

The company was a joint venture between inventor Simon West's company SWIG Pty. Ltd. of Melbourne and Smorgon. Smorgon had retained its 50 percent interest in Inpet following the sale of its PET business, but Southcorp now has exercised its right to purchase Smorgon's stake.

Crundwell would not reveal the cost of the purchase.